Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity


Views from the Center


One of the best ways to keep up to speed with the research frontier in development is to follow what new PhDs are doing. But who has time to read all those papers? So, for the busy development professional, here’s a list of some of the PhDs that caught our eye in 2015, summarized for your snackable enjoyment in tweet-length format.

Note that this list is not quite random, but very incomplete—gleaned through word of mouth, the excellent series of  posts by job market candidates over at the Development Impact blog, and meetings at the AEA conference in Boston this weekend.

My impression is 2015 has yielded a stronger-than-usual crop of job market candidates in development.

  1. India's NREGA breaks the link from income shocks to violent conflict.
  2. HIV/AIDS education in Malawi exaggerates the riskiness of sex, leads to fatalism and more risk taking
  3. Brazil's Development Bank -- twice as big as @WorldBank -- uses FDI as 21st-century industrial policy.
  4. After Hurricane Mitch, NGO aid targeted flood areas, gov't aid didn't.
  5. China's rapid FDI growth is driven partly by moral hazard, as SOEs take big risks assuming state bailouts.
  6. Foreign aid is a less partisan issue in U.S. than you might expect, bc liberal isolationists oppose it.
  7. Ethiopians covered by government social programs have lower demand for private insurance.
  8. Multiparty democracy *increased* incumbency advantage in Kenyan and Zambian elections.
  9. Market competition leads to more, not less, reliance on personal relationships in Sierra Leone.
  10. War split Cote d'Ivoire into two states; export taxes fell in one; cocoa farmers benefited.
  11. Poor people in Indonesia support regressive fuel subsidies because they distrust the government.
  12. Violence in Colombia stunts children's cognitive development.
  13. Youth in Ghana will work for almost nothing, generate profits for firms, but still can't find jobs.
  14. Mexican emigration was an "exit valve", reducing pressure for land redistribution in 1920s.
  15. Violence is reducing Mexicans' tolerance for corrupt police
  16. If trade between Indian states were as integrated as US states, welfare would rise 15%.
  17. Paradoxically, recruiting health workers in Uganda with more $ leads to worse outcomes.

Note that these are my summaries, not the authors', so I'm sure I missed the point in a few cases.  (Tip to students: include a clear thesis statement in your abstract.)

Good luck to all of the new PhDs.


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD does not take institutional positions.