research institute for compassionate economics


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..

Why don’t I floss my teeth more often? Or go to the gym more frequently? Or eat more green, leafy vegetables? In the big picture, what I do with my health probably doesn’t matter. But, sometimes these little behaviors –...Read More..

75% of all households in India use solid unprocessed fuels—firewood and dung-cake—as cooking fuels. The fuel is burned in inefficient chulhas (burners) in poorly ventilated kitchens resulting in an estimated half a million premature deaths and nearly 500 million cases...Read More..


For this post, I’d like to share a paper that I just read by Anil Deolalikar, published in 1988 in the Review of Economics and Statistics entitled “Nutrition and Labor Productivity in Agriculture: Estimates for Rural South India.” Deolalikar’s article...Read More..


Devi Sridhar’s book The Battle Against Hunger bridges several divides. As an anthropologist, she studies food and nutrition – and nutrition policy – through the details of three villages in Tamil Nadu, but also in the halls of the World...Read More..


Prices in India

Avinash Kishore, on February 26th, 2011
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I will continue from where I started the last time--prices in India. Last summer, my mom was complaining about price of lentils. Masoor was selling at Rs100/kg—unthinkable! Other lentils were also similarly expensive. I wondered—in a country where half of...Read More..


This post is about a humbling sight I saw on the street in Guadalajara a few weeks ago: At a busy intersection there was a young man, about 20 or 25 years old who washes the windows of the cars...Read More..


On honor in economics

Dean Spears, on February 24th, 2011
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Waiting in the airport, I just finished philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah’s The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen. With visits with Kant and Prince Hal to the Ming dynasty, Sicily, and northern Pakistan, Appiah explores the tight links between feelings...Read More..

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