On Saturday, March 10th CEGA staff and EASST and BRAC fellows joined top researchers in development economics at UC Davis for the 2018 Pacific Development Conference (PacDev). The conference, held annually at a university on the West Coast, featured a variety of presentations ranging from women’s empowerment, to behavioral economics in health, to violence and conflict. GiveDirectly’s Paul Niehaus delivered the keynote address, where he emphasized the need for the development economics community to “think bigger” to conduct large-scale experiments that could have greater policy impacts than smaller studies. Both staff and fellows found PacDev a valuable experience—BRAC fellow Danish Us Salam shares three new insights he gained from the conference below:
1) I attended a presentation titled “Income, Psychological Well-being, and the Dynamics of Poverty: Evidence from South Africa” by M. Alloush, a PhD Candidate in Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis, and came to know about the 10-item Center for the Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale, for measuring depressive symptoms. This is relevant since my present research will also be measuring depression and I only knew about the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) as a method of depression measurement.
2) It was interesting to attend a session by Mingming Ma, a PhD Candidate in Economics at the University of Southern California, who presented on the causal association between education and longevity of parents lives. More specifically, parents with educated kids were found to have positive health effects in later life. The potential pathways of these effects are, “financial support, access to economic resources, clean fuels and sanitation.”
3) A presentation by Emma Riley, a PhD Candidate in Economics at the University of Oxford, on using a movie starring Queen of Katwe, a likely role model, to boost student aspirations and performance in exams gave me some serious pointers on an intervention that uses board games to nudge student behavior. It would be interesting to see how that intervention relates to student confidence, discipline, and their involvement in anti-social activities
In January 2018 , the Working Group in African Political Economy (WGAPE) held its international meeting at New York University-Abu Dhabi (NYU-AD). WGAPE is an international forum for academic researchers, ranging from graduate students to faculty, who meet semi-annually to have discussions on selected papers--providing a unique opportunity for presenters to receive extensive feedback from participants. EASST fellows Constantine Manda, who is currently pursuing a PhD in Political Science at Yale University, and Michael Mbate, who is currently pursuing a PhD in International Development at the London School of Economics, were among the five African scholars selected to present at the NYU-AD meeting. Ten more students and junior faculty from sub-Saharan Africa participated in a Learning Days training opportunity sponsored by Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP) and the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS). In a recent blog post, CEGA affiliate Brian Dillon delves into the details of Manda’s paper, “Minority Presidents, Ethnic Diversity, and the Onset of Civil War.” Read the full post here.