research institute for compassionate economics


In November, Dean and I visited friends in Allahabad, who took us to some villages on the borders of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Crossing the border from Shakargarh, in southern Uttar Pradesh, into Madhya Pradesh, we noticed a decline...Read More..

Links from Avinash

Avinash Kishore, on November 6th, 2011
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Putting Growth in its Place, by Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen: "It has to be but a means to development, not an end in itself." *** New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and India's leading political commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta...Read More..

‘Combined’ against Naxalism

Avinash Kishore, on October 30th, 2011
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A combine harvester, or combine, is a machine that harvests food crops like paddy, wheat, maize and soybean. It combines three separate operations, reaping, threshing and winnowing, into a single process. Combines are giant machines; bigger than anything you see...Read More..

Lack of adequate power supply constrains economic growth and affects quality of life across India. But nowhere is the problem as severe as it is in my home state, Bihar. Bihar, a state of more than a 100 million people,...Read More..

Last week Diane, Avinash, and I spent some time in a village in north Bihar. At the first glance, the village had some very useful public facilities – decent roads, subsidized food, and at least three schools. But, a little...Read More..

Clean Coupons

Diane Coffey, on October 22nd, 2011

On a recent trip to Bihar, Dean, Avinash and I had the opportunity to visit a PDS dealer in Muzaffarpur district and ask him about the new cupon system for the Public Distribution System (PDS) in Bihar. The PDS is...Read More..

  For the past month and a half or so, Diane and I have been in Delhi. We've made friends with the great people at the Delhi School of Economics and with the folks at NCAER who bring you my...Read More..

Short Term Labor Migration

Diane Coffey, on October 3rd, 2011
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Dean Spears, John Papp and I have just wrapped up a first draft of a working paper about short term labor migration from a region on the borders of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and MP (using the same data that inspired the...Read More..

This Sunday, the New York Times magazine will be running a long article about decision fatigue that cites Dean's depletion research. It's already online at More..

The people behind the numbers

Diane Coffey, on July 16th, 2011
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I’ve often heard it said that when social science research involves too many numbers, we can lose track of the people behind the numbers. I don’t necessarily agree with this claim—in fact, some numbers not only remind me of, but...Read More..

About a week ago, as I was beginning to think about the "administrative records" section of a class that I could teach about collecting demographic data, I came across a photo essay by Jan Banning on Chris Blattman’s blog. The...Read More..

Worth 1,000 words?

Dean Spears, on June 24th, 2011
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My mother would gladly read even the worst blog posts, so long as I wrote them. But yesterday, she called with a gentle suggestion: maybe some pictures would help. After all, it is hard for our friends in the U.S....Read More..

What is the most dangerous thing that humans make? Is it nuclear weapons? Is it carbon emissions? To be honest, I don’t know (and I’m not particularly sure how we might even find out), but I would like to propose...Read More..


We received our determination letter from the IRS yesterday: RICE is now officially a 501(c)(3) public charity. That means that it doesn’t have to pay income taxes, and donations to it are tax deductable (at least for people who itemize...Read More..


I have spent much of the last few months thinking about how the data we collect influences the conclusions we draw. Today, I’ve been reading a draft of a paper called “Remembrance of Things Past: The Impact of Recall Periods...Read More..


Who will work for the poor?

Diane Coffey, on March 24th, 2011
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The growing use of controlled experiments to test whether programs for the poor are effective is an exciting trend in development economics research and in development practice. Much like a drug trial tries to answer the question of whether a...Read More..

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