Impact Evaluations and Sachs’ Millennium villages

This post is an expanded commentary on today’s posting on the World Bank’s Impact Evaluation blog about IEs and Sachs’ Millennium villages.

The Migration and Development Debate Redux

The cooperative game analysis of the development efforts in a developing country sheds a different light on the well-meaning development experts (in advanced countries) who promote policies that will facilitate defections and thus will tend to break down the cooperative solution to a developing country’s development efforts.

Free Cities: What could be wrong with that?

This post is an update of a previous post on The Charter Cities Debate and Democratic Theory. A new twist on Paul Romer’s idea of charter cities has come to my attention. It is promoted under the name of “free cities.” The home base seems to be the Free Cities Institute headquartered at the Francisco Marroquin University, a right-wing university in Guatemala.

Fukuyama and Dahrendorf on Hayek

Frank Fukuyama’s recent review of Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty in the NYTimes has raised a ruckus in Hayekian circles. I review an older critique of Hayek by Ralf Dahrendorf and then lament the absence of the Hayekians in the great debate of the 1990s about socially engineering the transition from socialism to capitalism. Apparently the Hayekian strictures against utopian social engineering only applied to the transition in the opposite direction.

Cash on Delivery: Gee, why didn’t someone think of that before?

So many development commentators over the decades have demonstrated their incomprehension of the subtleties of development aid by modeling it on the idea of “vaccinating children” that this example has become a punch-line for jokes about development naïveté. But today I see in the New York Times the breathless new idea of “cash-on-delivery aid” to pay developing countries so much cash for each child vaccinated!

The Charter Cities Debate and Democratic Theory

The charter cities debate is great for helping to bring out these non-democratic aspects of classical liberalism and conventional economic theory not to mention right-wing libertarianism.

Evaluations versus Peer-to-Peer Social Learning

There are such strong debates about evaluations in the field of economic development that it sometimes seems like a civil war. I would like to suggest that there is a rather different way to approach this problem that renders the debate about evaluation rather secondary and ill-posed. The real alternative to some imagined “scientific evaluations” to foster social learning is peer-to-peer networks of the doers facing similar problems and searching for solutions.

Development or just poverty reduction?

Many of the debates about foreign aid and development assistance seem to pivot on different visions of the goal: development or just poverty reduction.

Social Engineering vs. Pragmatism: Part I of Commentary on the Sarkozy-Stiglitz Commission

The point of this Part I commentary on the Sarkozy-Stiglitz Commission is to juxtapose the social engineering perspective implied in the whole exercise of trying to find a better index of “economic performance and social progress” to a more pragmatic perspective.

Obama needs new job creation ideas

The Obama economics team seems trapped by rather conventional job-creation ideas, e.g., Keynesian pump-priming or tax breaks for small businesses, ideas whose main virtue is that they are better than the opposition’s ideas of more tax breaks for the rich. But there are other ways to increase job creation and entrepreneurship that have been hindered by the size-maximizing tendencies of American corporations.