Wednesday, 15 June 2011

YOU write the next DV409 final exam!!

Dear ex and soon-to-be-ex DV409 students,

Now that the teaching year is over, revisions complete, and you have seen (and finished!) the exam, we'd like to hear from you what sort of exam questions you would have liked to see or could suggest for future DV409 exams? Give it a go - we will definitely use all usable ideas!!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Malthusian Growth

One of the take-aways from recent growth theory reviewed in DV409 is that modern growth as we experience it (where better technology leads to higher standards of living) is a very recent phenomenon -only from the last several hundred years. Here is another working paper by Ashraf and Galor that again confirms this surprising but profound observation. You can read the paper online and I reproduce the abstract here:

This paper examines the central hypothesis of the influential Malthusian theory, according to which improvements in the technological environment during the pre-industrial era had generated only temporary gains in income per capita, eventually leading to a larger, but not significantly richer, population. Exploiting exogenous sources of cross-country variations in land productivity and the level of technological advancement the analysis demonstrates that, in accordance with the theory, technological superiority and higher land productivity had significant positive effects on population density but insignificant effects on the standard of living, during the time period 1-1500 CE.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Alternative medicine and Statistics

A good article in this week's Economist Magazine summarises the overall results from one Professor Edzard Ernst's career spent testing the efficacy of alternative medical treatments. Overall his team has found statistically significant efficacy for 5% of all treatments studied. This was reported by the Economist as evidence that 5% of alternative medical treatments were "truly" effective.

But is this the correct interpretation of this outcome? Putting on our statistical hats, assume that NO alternative treatments were any better than placebos, and that Prof. Ernst and his team had examined their efficacy using a 95% cut-off for level of statistical significance. In what percentage of the studies would you expect them to (incorrectly) find that the treatment was statistically significant? (i.e. make a type-1 error) Ha ha!! Is that a coincidence??!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Supply and demand policies to improve educational outcomes

Thanks Anita and Linda for suggesting two interesting pieces on the challenges of improving educational outcomes in the developing world, and the relative merits of supply and demand side initiatives.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Albouy vs. AJR

A major aim of DV409 is to show that our understanding of the world is in a constant state of flux and growth, equip students to continue to follow ongoing debates in economic development, and to enable them decide for themselves which arguments have more merit. To that end, here is the latest salvo in an ongoing debate between David Albouy and Acemoglu, Robinson and Johnson (whose 2001 AER paper should be very familiar to all ID students!) ... Will this settle the matter once and for all??

Monday, 18 April 2011

Study hints for exam time

As everyone gets ready for exams, here is an excellent story in the New York Times about the best methods to learn difficult material well.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Are Trills the next big thing in development?

The strategic use of 'Trills', or shares in GDP, is an idea proposed by Mark Kamstra and Robert Shiller that could help re-allign incentives and fight rent seeking in both rich countries and poor. It is getting some excited attention in the blogosphere these days - what do you think?