Links, developments, etc (March 2016)

Depending how time-consuming it is, I’ll try to post some links to interesting  blogs, papers, etc that I’ve come across. Here are some from the last few weeks.

American Statistical Association on the use of p-values:

I’ve long taken an interest in debates on the brain drain. It falls within a larger debate about migration of labour, and I recently discovered that the well-known labour economist George Borjas is blogging on the subject:

Not sure I agree with much of it, but still worth a glance.

As a resident and citizen of a developing country, which has been told to not be concerned about the effect of trade on labour, it is ironic to see the negative consequences of migration and associated trade now being taken more seriously in the US after a shift in global trade dynamics.

As coincidence would have it, having just started a blog partly about doing academic work at the periphery, one of the blogs I follow has a new post ‘profiling and promoting developing country researchers’:

I disagree with a lot of the opinionated pieces posted by the World Bank Impact Team – particularly on more serious methodological issues – but the blog is a great way of keeping up-to-date with recent experimental development work and technical issues relevant to practitioners. My own experience has not been that there is much enthusiasm for promoting work of developing country researchers who produce critical work, but we live in hope! More on core-periphery dynamics in academia in later posts.

The blog takes a somewhat gratuitous swipe at the notion of ‘brain drain’ and the idea that developing country researchers might be materially disadvantaged relative to their developed country peers. I have a critical paper on the ‘new brain drain’ literature in the works, so will link to that here when it’s done.

Ben Goldacre posted a link to this site which apparently provides tools for ‘critical evidence appraisal’.

At first glance it seems to contain useful basic principles for people unfamiliar with methodological issues in empirical research. Of course, it’s become apparent that what constitutes ‘evidence’ is rather subjective, so will be interesting to look at this in more detail. Goldacre has done valuable work exposing how financial incentives have distorted research findings, but has paid less attention to external validity issues than would seem appropriate given his endorsement of RCTs for policy.

He also has some interesting thoughts about recent policy in the UK regarding academics lobbying policymakers:

I agree with some points, but at the same time worry about the trend of encouraging academics to persuade politicians with little regard for the limitations of those academics’ own work.

Somewhat related is recent commentary on issues of reproducibility in economics and experimental psychology:

A mini-debate has started about the University of Cape Town’s economics curriculum:

Having taught at UCT I think I can add quite a bit to this and that will be the subject of my next blog post.

I was expecting Grieve Chelwa (also formerly UCT) to make a comment in his new weekly links blog for AfricaisaCountry, but not this time. Still, it’s a fun read with an alternative perspective to the usual stuff:




Author: peripheralecon

Public sector economist, extra-mural academic

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