1. Children are the Future: The NY Times has a new data set and visualization on socioeconomic status and school achievement in the US. But it’s not just in poor neighborhoods in the US that children aren’t learning. The failure to measure learning in global education policy is a big problem. Of course, surviving to school age is the first step. Chen, et. al. look at why infant mortality is higher in the US than Europe (hint: mothers in poverty) and Amarante et. al. see cash transfers to such poor pregnant women leads to higher birth weight babies (which are less likely to die) in Uruguay. But perhaps the cash grants shouldn’t stop during pregnancy. Russ Whitehurst at Brookings argues that cash support to families has a bigger impact on learning outcomes than early childhood education programs.
2. Basic Income: Speaking of cash grants, basic income is apparently the story of the moment. FiveThirtyEight provides a pretty comprehensive overview, including upcoming experiments in Kenya, the Netherlands and Finland and a look back at the NIT experiments (which helped launch the modern era of RCTs). Meanwhile, Michael Strain at AEI thinks basic income is unworkable in practice and we’ll just end up back where we started.