Past IDSS Speakers
Origins and Evolution of the Financial and Euro Crises
Professor of International Economics, JHU School of Advanced International Studies
Wednesday, June 6
Anne Krueger is Professor of International Economics at the School for Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. She is also a Senior Fellow of Center for International Development (of which she was the founding Director) and the Herald L. and Caroline Ritch Emeritus Professor of Sciences and Humanities in the Economics Department at Stanford University.
Agricultural Decisions after Relaxing Credit and Risk Constraints
Professor of Economics, Yale University
Wednesday, May 9
Prof. Karlan is an Affiliate of The Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD) and the President and Founder of Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). His research focuses on microeconomic issues of public policies and poverty. He studies the effectiveness of particular policies to fight poverty or the relevance of economic theories of individual decision-making. Much of his work uses behavioral economics insights and approaches to examine economic and policy issues relevant in developing countries as well as in domestic charitable fundraising and political participation.
The Gates Foundation: What We Do and Why
Senior Program Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Monday, April 30
Ms. Derrick spoke about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation strategy towards philanthropy and economic development. In particular, she discussed how the foundation identifies issues to target and how grant recipients are chosen.
The Fundamental Problems Facing Japan Today
Professor of Geography, University of California at Los Angeles
Monday, April 23
As Professor Diamond explained: "While there is currently much discussion of Japan's economic problems, it seems that Japan faces deeper problems involving the status of women, immigration policy, and environmental policies." His talk was on this topic.
From Schools to Soaps: Financial Capability Interventions in Brazil and South Africa
Economist, Development Research Group
Wednesday, April 18
This talk described early findings from two ongoing studies. The first is a large-scale randomized experiment conducted in hundreds of secondary schools in Brazil, evaluating the use of financial-education textbook integrated into the regular school curriculum and a second accompanying intervention aimed at improving parents’ financial literacy. The second study uses an encouragement design to evaluate the effectiveness of a storyline embedded within popular local soap opera "Scandal!" to encourage better debt management behavior. These studies are supported by the Russia Trust Fund, which is also supporting RAND's work in developing a financial capability evaluation toolkit for low and middle income countries.
Academic Achievement in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Dr. Leigh L. Linden
Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin
Wednesday, March 14
Prof. Linden discussed the findings from his study of the effects of local schools on enrollment and academic achievement in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Life Satisfaction in China, 1990-2010
Professor of Economics, University of Southern California
Tuesday, February 21
Prof. Easterlin discussed whether or not satisfaction with life has increased in China following the four-fold increase in per capita consumption since 1990. He provided thoughts on the extent to which the upper, middle, and lower income classes have participated in the change in life satisfaction.
Teaching Product Design for the Developing World
Assistant Professor of International Education, New York University
Tuesday, February 7
Prof. Pickar discussed his efforts on teaching how to design products for the two billion people in the world who exist on less than $2/day. His area of interest is start-up and continuous growth of technology-based companies, and the modification of normative product development processes to address developing world challenges.
Going to School in Ghor: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Afghanistan
Assistant Professor of International Education, New York University
October 27, 2011
Dana Burde presented her work on the effect of community-based schools on educational enrollment and achievement in Afghanistan. Her work supports the idea that equitable access to education has an effect on enrollment and achievement, and that this effect is much larger for girls than boys.
Elections and Legitimacy: Experimental Evidence from Afghanistan
Department of Economics at the University of California, San Diego
Research Director for the International Security Studies at the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation
October 18, 2011
International development agencies invest heavily in institution building in fragile states, including expensive interventions supporting democracy. We present a simple theoretical framework linking representation to public goods provision and conventional social welfare analysis. We also present experimental evidence demonstrating how fraud reduction in the Afghan elections of September 2009 causally improved survey measures of several proxies for legitimacy.
Education and Health: Insights from International Comparisons
Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at UCLA
Faculty Fellow at the California Center for Population Research (CCPR) and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
September 15, 2011
Prof. Lleras-Muney discusses what is known so far about the relationship between education and health. Unlike earlier work that has considered the effect of education separately for rich and poor countries, she suggests that there are insights to be gained by integrating the two. She postulates that the behaviors associated with health outcomes are affected by the level of a country's development.
Laptops and Learning: One Laptop per Child in the Developing World
Rodrigo Arboleda Halaby
Chairman and CEO of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Association
April 26, 2011
OLPC Association takes explicit responsibility for long-term support for stable deployments of OLPC laptops around the world. Arboleda Halaby completed his Bachelor's Degree in Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1965 and was elected president of the Colombian Society of Architects in Medellín in 1975. He has worked with Nicholas Negroponte since 1982 on projects oriented towards bringing digital age technologies to educational systems in developing nations. He has been a BOD member of Save The Children Foundation and Give To Colombia Foundation and has worked extensively in diverse enterprises in Latin America and Spain.
Power Diffusion in the Middle East
March 29, 2011
In his latest book, The Future of Power, Harvard political scientist Joseph Nye claims that neither hard nor soft power but, rather, "smart power" is what will prevail in the digital age.
Panel Discussion of RAND & Kurdistan: Discussing Current and Future Projects
Ross Anthony, Michael Hansen, Krishna Kumar, Howard Shatz, Georges Vernez; moderated by Robin Meili
January 4, 2011
This event provided a forum for team leaders to discuss RAND Kurdistan projects with the larger RAND community. The panelists discussed their respective projects: the impact of the project, any unique or unexpected challenges faced by the team, and any ideas or proposals for future work.
Due Diligence on Microfinance: Assessing Its Contribution to Development
Center for Global Development
December 1, 2010
David Roodman presents his work in microfinance through an "open book" blog in which he shares questions, discoveries, and chapter drafts. He asks bottom-line questions about what we know about the benefits of microfinance, and what that implies for how we support it.
US Humanitarian Diplomacy Efforts in Africa
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
November 17, 2010
Dr. Reuben Brigety discussed U.S. humanitarian diplomacy efforts in Africa--in particular, the ongoing humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa, violence-induced displacement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and humanitarian issues in Sudan. He addressed the difficulties the United States faces in providing humanitarian assistance to people displaced by armed conflict and challenges inherent in advancing humanitarian principles through diplomacy.
The Miracle of Microfinance? Evidence from a randomized evaluation
Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
October 28, 2010
Microcredit has spread extremely rapidly since its beginnings in the late 1970s, but whether and how much it helps the poor is the subject of intense debate. This paper reports on the first randomized evaluation of the impact of introducing microcredit in a new market. Half of 104 slums in Hyderabad, India were randomly selected for opening of an microfinance institution (MFI) branch while the remainder were not. We show that the intervention increased total MFI borrowing, and study the effects on the creation and the profitability of small businesses, investment, and consumption. Fifteen to 18 months after lending began in treated areas, there was no effect of access to microcredit on average monthly expenditure per capita, but expenditure on durable goods increased in treated areas and the number of new businesses increased by one third. The effects of microcredit access are heterogeneous: households with an existing business at the time of the program invest more in durable goods, while their nondurable consumption does not change. Households with high propensity to become new business owners increase their durable goods spending and see a decrease in nondurable consumption, consistent with the need to pay a fixed cost to enter entrepreneurship. Households with low propensity to become business owners increase their nondurable spending. We find no impact on measures of health, education, or women’s decision-making.
The Impact of Climate Change on Indian Agriculture: A Panel Data Approach
University of Maryland
June 8, 2010
This paper estimates the impact of climate change on Indian agriculture. I use a 40-year district-level panel data set covering over 200 Indian districts to estimate the effect of random year-to-year variation in weather on agricultural output. These panel estimates incorporate farmers' within-year adaptations to annual weather shocks. These estimates, derived from short-run weather effects, are relevant for predicting the medium-run economic impact of climate change if farmers are unable to adapt quickly. I find that projected climate change over the period 2010-2039 reduces major crop yields by 4.5 to 9 percent. The long-run (2070-2099) impact is dramatic, reducing yields by 25 percent or more in the absence of long-run adaptation. These results suggest that climate change is likely to impose significant costs on the Indian economy unless farmers can quickly recognize and adapt to increasing temperatures. Such rapid adaptation may be less plausible in a developing country, where access to information and capital is limited.
Mexico without (Some) Mexicans: Emigration, Remittances, and Politics in Contemporary Mexico
Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at UCLA
May 6, 2010
Labor flows from Mexicans to the U.S. have influenced not only social and economic, but also political outcomes in Mexico, such as:
1) Partisan competition for local office and the slow demise of the hegemonic party in the 1990s.
2) Political engagement & participation in democratic Mexico.
3) Quality of governance: clientelism, local public goods, tax effort by local governments.
4) The gendered nature of life in Mexico, both inside and outside the household (including women's political participation and descriptive representation).
The talk discussed all of these aspects of migration, particularly proposition (2), the effect of Mexico-US migration on political engagement and participation in democratic Mexico.
Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya
March 4, 2010
While many developing-country policymakers see heavy fertilizer subsidies as critical to raising agricultural productivity, most economists see them as distortionary, regressive, environmentally unsound, and argue that they result in politicized, inefficient distribution of fertilizer supply. We model farmers as facing small fixed costs of purchasing fertilizer, and assume some are stochastically present-biased and not fully sophisticated about this bias. Even when relatively patient, such farmers may procrastinate, postponing fertilizer purchases until later periods, when they may be too impatient to purchase fertilizer. Consistent with the model, many farmers in Western Kenya fail to take advantage of apparently profitable fertilizer investments, but they do invest in response to small, time-limited discounts on the cost of acquiring fertilizer (free delivery) just after harvest. Later discounts have a smaller impact, and when given a choice of price schedules, many farmers choose schedules that induce advance purchase. Calibration suggests such small, time-limited discounts yield higher welfare than either laissez faire or heavy subsidies by helping present-biased farmers commit to fertilizer use without inducing those with standard preferences to substantially overuse fertilizer.
Panel Discussion: Human Trafficking and the Role of Research
Executive Director of the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking (CAST)
Survey Director, RAND
Chairperson, Chief of the Health Assessment Unit of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
January 27, 2010
Panelists discussed key policy questions around human trafficking and how analytical research can contribute to the policy discussion. Within that context, the panel discussed some of the challenges associated with doing research on hard to reach populations, and how innovative research techniques can be used to overcome these challenges.
Privatization and Nationalization Cycles
December 1, 2009
This paper examines nationalization and privatization cycles in resource-rich economies as a prime instance of unstable institutional reform. The authors review the literature and discuss the available evidence on the drivers and consequences of nationalization and privatization, and present illustrative case studies. The paper's main contribution is a static and dynamic model of the choice between national and private resource ownership as an equality-efficiency trade-off in national vs. private natural resources ownership. The model connects resource ownership and the equality-efficiency trade-off through the incentives for effort that each regime elicits from workers. The resolution of the trade-off depends on external conditions (such as the commodity price) and domestic conditions (such as the tax system) that affect the value of social welfare under each regime. In particular, the analysis identifies the determinants of the observed cycles of privatization and nationalization.
World Bank Panel Discussion on Health in Africa: Progress and the Private Sector
Alex Preker, April Harding, Khama Rogo, and Connor Spreng
October 5, 2009
This panel of leading World Bank researchers discussed the Bank's "Health in Africa" initiative. The initiative provides policy advice and technical assistance to strengthen the operating environment for an improved private engagement in the health sector in Africa, as well as providing access to finance for private providers.
Congo: The Next Blood Diamonds Campaign and the Effort to End the World's Deadliest War
Co-founder, Enough Project
September 28, 2009
John Prendergast reflects on the ways we can put an end to the conflict in Congo. He suggests that this begins with the international community abandoning its traditional piecemeal approach to deal with this multi-layered and immensely complex conflict, and adopting a holistic approach to peacemaking.
Feeding and Fueling the World to 2030 and Beyond: Economic and Environmental Challenges for Global Agriculture
September 1, 2009
The sharp increases in food prices that have occurred in global and national markets over the last several years, has sharpened the awareness of policy makers and agricultural economic analysts to the stresses facing global food systems and the ecosystems that support them. Many are concerned about the implications of high food prices and increased volatility in food markets on the welfare and well-being of vulnerable populations who consist of mostly net consumers of these products, and who largely reside in the poorest regions of the developing world. This presentation discusses the key drivers of change that will determine the trajectory over which the global agricultural economy is likely to evolve towards 2030 and beyond. Among the drivers discussed are socio-economic growth, and the resulting changes in dietary demands, as well as policy-driven developments such as the growth in first-generation biofuels production. The presentation also looks at the impacts of plausible changes to global hydrological patterns, and how they are likely to affect both irrigated and rainfed agriculture in key grain-growing regions. Examining how levels of calorie availability and nutrition are likely to change, under these scenarios, enables addressing the potential role of policy interventions in enhancing food security and market stability, in the face of greater stresses on global agricultural markets and food systems. Based on this analysis, final recommendations are drawn for both policy intervention and further research.
Panel Discussion: RAND's Current and Future Working Relationship with the World Bank
Neeraj Sood, Greg Treverton and Georges Vernez
June 25, 2009
The panelists highlight their experiences with identifying and procuring World Bank work, as well as in leading such projects. They also discussed future directions for RAND - World Bank relations, focusing on ways/efforts/goals to build a more long-term, strategic relationship between the two institutions.
Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a field experiment in Kenya
May 22, 2009
Prof. Dupas discusses the extent to which the lack of access to formal financial services impedes business growth in low-income countries. She presents findings from a field experiment conducted in rural Kenya, where self-employed individuals received access to an interest-free bank account.
The Role for Private Enterprises in Development
Keith M. Zook
Procter & Gamble
April 22, 2009
The panel discussed the role of private enterprise in health and development in Africa. Global corporate citizenship means that companies must not only be engaged with stakeholders but be stakeholders themselves alongside governments and civil society. Since companies depend on global development, which in turn relies on stability and increased prosperity, it is in their direct interest to help improve the state of the world. We also explored how RAND may be able to partner with these Corporate entities in their development efforts.
Reducing Global Poverty, Advancing Global Education, Building Global Infrastructure: Long-Term, Integrated Forecasting with the International Futures (IFs) System
Barry B. Hughes
University of Denver
March 16, 2009
The International Futures (IFs) forecasting system is being used for a wide range of analyses of alternative national, regional, and global issues. Among the analyses is a series of volumes on Patterns of Potential Human Progress (PPHP) patterned after the Human Development Reports. The first volume was on Reducing Global Poverty (Paradigm and Oxford University Press India) and the second (forthcoming) is on Advancing Global Education. The third will be on Improving Global Health and the fourth will focus on Building Global Infrastructure, including information and communications technology (ICT). The system has also been used in support of the National Intelligence Council's 2020 Project and Global Trends 2025 and the United Nations Environment Programme's Global Environmental Outlook 4.
Panel Discussion: RAND Education's Client-Funded Research in Qatar
Charles Goldman, Gabriella Gonzalez, Shelly Culbertson
March 16, 2009
Much international research is funded by donor or third-party agencies and those arrangements bring both opportunities and challenges. Client-funded research brings its own opportunities and challenges. RAND Education has had eight years' experience in Qatar conducting research sponsored by the government of Qatar. This panel discussion reviewed the history of RAND Education's relationship with the Qatari sponsors over this time and highlighted a recent example project to discuss methods of working within RAND and between RAND and our clients to influence and develop policy.
Government Transfers and Political Support
University of California, Berkeley
January 30, 2009
We estimate the impact of a large anti-poverty program - the Uruguayan PANES - on political support for the government that implemented it. The program mainly consisted of a monthly cash transfer for a period of roughly two and half years. Using the discontinuity in program assignment based on a pre-treatment score, we find that beneficiary households are 21 to 28 percentage points more likely to favor the current government (relative to the previous government). We find no effects on household labor supply. Impacts on political support are larger among poorer households and for those near the center of the political spectrum, consistent with the probabilistic voting model in political economy. Effects persist after the cash transfer program ends. We estimate that the annual cost of increasing government political support by 1 percentage point is roughly 0.6% of annual government social expenditures.
Panel: RAND's International HIV/AIDS Research
Katie DeRose, Homero Martinez, Glenn Wagner
Monday, August 18, 2008
Panelists discussed the scope of RAND research on HIV/AIDS in Africa and Latin America, research designs for select projects, and preliminary findings.
The Missing Middle: Innovating Development Finance for Small and Medium Sized Businesses
Thursday, July 31, 2008
SMEs (small and medium-sized businesses) are a critical source of economic growth. They develop new products, services and business models that spur innovation and forge dynamic clusters linked to global markets through trade and investment. But, SMEs in the developing world continue to face enormous barriers to growth – most notably limited access to affordable capital. As a result, most of the developing world's industrial structure suffers from a "missing middle" characterized by many small, static and informal enterprises on one end of the spectrum and a few large firms on the other. This limits the development of a vibrant middle class as well. What are the barriers to SME development? Are there new, innovative methods to SME finance and capacity-building that might help bridge the "missing middle."
The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
Friday, June 20, 2008
Francis Fukuyama, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the Johns Hopkins University, discussed his most recent book entitled "Nation-Building: Beyond Afghanistan and Iraq."
Economic Developments/Trends in South East Asia - Challenges and Prospects: An ISEAS Perspective
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)
Friday, May 23, 2008
Dr. Shrestha discussed the research activities of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), which focuses on countries in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). In particular, he addressed the region's relevance, importance and strengths, its conventional and newly emerging risks and weaknesses, their implications beyond the ASEAN region, and some of the possible areas demanding deeper research that could be of interest not only to ASEAN and ISEAS but to the U.S. as well. In addition to studies at the regional level, Dr. Shrestha discussed other country-specific research at ISEAS including development opportunities and challenges in the context of Viet Nam.
Do Consumer Price Subsidies Really Improve Nutrition? Evidence from China
Brown University and NBER
Friday, May 9, 2008
Many developing countries use food price subsidies or price controls to improve the nutrition of the poor. However, subsidizing goods that households spend a high proportion of their budget on can create large wealth effects. Consumers may then substitute towards foods with higher non-nutritional attributes like taste, but lower nutritional content per unit currency, weakening or perhaps even reversing the intended impact of the subsidy. We present data from a randomized program of large price subsidies for poor households in two provinces of China. We find that the nutritional impact caused by the subsidy was at best extremely small, and for some households actually negative.