Week of April 4, 2016

1. Poorest of the Poor: There's new data from the Bangladesh "graduation model" evaluation that provided livestock and training to very poor women. After three years, results were strikingly positive. Now there's a 7 year follow-up that suggests those gains hold for the long-term and may even continue to increase--importantly with no evidence of negative spillovers and some evidence of positive spillovers to others in the village. Development Impact

2. Debt vs Savings: If you get an influx of cash, should you pay down debt or build up savings? It's a hard question to answer. Allison Schrager argues that paying down debt is conventional wisdom (is it?) but that saving is better than paying down low-interest, long-term debt for millennials. Of course, by rough calculation only 30% of millennials have such debt while the average American household carries $15,000+ of credit card debt. Quartz

3. Efficient Markets: Omar Al-Ubaydli and John List review the findings of field experiments on markets, finding that while there are behavioral quirks that limit market efficiency, many of those quirks disappear when participants have the chance to learn. A useful reminder when thinking about the use of nudges and the application of behavioral economics.
NBER

4. Efficient Markets in Philanthropy: Speaking of efficient markets, I've argued that despite much protestations, charitable giving is an efficient market after all. Here a documentarian discusses the role that story-telling ("propaganda") plays in reinforcing donors' perceptions and expectations, and "legitimi[zing] an entire crooked aid system." Two Dollar Challenge

5. Remittances: Donald Trump revealed his plan for coercing Mexico into paying for a border wall involves threatening remittance flows: a "ludicrous pipedream" that will help money launderers and hurt the poorest. Politico

The rising relative cost of being poor, as seen in housing costs. Source: Pew

The rising relative cost of being poor, as seen in housing costs. Source: Pew

Return to the Weekly faiV