Published November 29, 2012
Africa , Development
Development economist William Easterly has demonstrated convincingly that most “foreign aid” is ineffective, and often is worse than doing nothing (increasing corruption and dependence). E.g., see Africa’s Poverty Trap and Foreign aid vs. growth: Robert Lucas and William Easterly.
But there are effective interventions – so how do we discover how cost-effective various ideas are? That is the mission of J-PAL at MIT, created by French economist Esther Duflo. J-PAL is applying randomized controlled trials (RCT) as a key input to their cost-effectiveness methodology.
For an example, the above graphic summarizes the results of their Teacher Attendance & Incentives program. I like this example because it illustrates that some of the most effective ideas are simple and cheap. In this case, providing a basic digital camera to each village school:
(…) Esther Duflo, a French economics professor at MIT, wondered whether there was anything that could be done about absentee teachers in rural India, which is a large problem for remote schoolhouses with a single teacher. Duflo and her colleague Rema Hanna took a sample of 120 schools in Rajasthan, chose 60 at random, and sent cameras to teachers in the chosen schools. The cameras had tamper-proof date and time stamps, and the teachers were asked to get a pupil to photograph the teacher with the class at the beginning and the end of each school day.
It was a simple idea, and it worked. Teacher absenteeism plummeted, as measured by random audits, and the class test scores improved markedly.
FT has an interesting profile of Dr. Duflo (if you don’t mind reading what they had for lunch).
Published September 26, 2012
Development , Uncategorized
This sounds sensible on the surface – India packages up an Android tablet with optional mobile broadband. To accelerate widespread internet access. What’s not to like (aside from the probable subsidy)? Here’s Tyler Cowen:
Do you want a tablet but don’t have enough money to buy one of those high-end tablets available in the market today? Here’s some good news for you. There’s a new $35 tablet, the catch is, you can only get it in India.
The new Aakash UbiSlate 7Ci comes equipped with WiFi so you can connect to the internet but if you’re living in India, you can avail of the $64 upgrade and have yourself a cellular Internet package of $2/month for 2 GB of data which translates to roughly 25 emails, 25 websites, 2 minutes of streaming video, and 15 minutes of voice chat a day. It also features voice search, so it might help pacify your need for something similar to Apple’s Siri.
It features a 7.5-inch display, a front facing VGA camera, and a Cortex A8, 1Ghz Processor. According to reports, it’s as fast as an iPhone, so it can’t be too bad. It runs Android but the version hasn’t been specified yet.
The cheap tablet is part of the Indian government’s move to technologically mobilize the country. The first batch of the affordable tablets will hit universities around India sometime this month and via a “special offer”, DataWind, the carrier and maker of the tablet, will offer broadband for a monthly cost of US$1.78. And for those living in remote areas where electricity is sparse, they can get a solar charger for the Aakash UbiSlate 7Ci.
Here is more, and for the pointer I thank Mark Thorson.
Tyler quipped “Perfect for MRU” in his caption. Translation “Perfect for Marginal Revolution University“. Tyler and Alex Tabarrok are on their way to Korea for a MR session.
Published June 21, 2011
China , Economics
In fact, some scholars of the Indian economy are estimating a growth-rate crossover before 2020: when the Indian economy averages higher economic growth than China. And no scholars can usefully estimate political outcomes – how rapidly can India solve its governance problems?
For a look at the dynamics of the Indian economy, please read Edward Hugh, at Econmonitor, whose essay includes the above two graphics.
The relative demographics are huge. China has been benefiting from a bulge of working-age adults. That beneficial trend is now rapidly being reversed as the above charts indicate. Conversely, India is just beginning to benefit from a working-age bulge, which will be smoother and longer-lasting than China’s experience.