Sunday Links

  • “The good news, however, is that across the developing world, tens of millions of parents are refusing to accept that their kids sit in class day after day learning nothing. Instead, they’re moving their children to private schools. And these aren’t just wealthy parents. Extremely poor mothers and fathers are taking some of their limited income and using it to ensure that their kids can have a better life through higher-quality education” – from a nice, quick overview on private education in developing countries by Charles Kenny
  • How to make a workplace more diverse (hint: it’s harder than it sounds)
  • I think Chris Blattman gets to the core of the cash transfers debate here: no, the results aren’t, on net, as world-changing as supporters claim. But, like he and Paul Niehaus (one of the GiveDirectly founders) says, it’s the index fund of aid: the burden of proof is on the other organizations to prove they’re more “effective” (however it’s measured)
  • Checklists aren’t important in and of themselves. Their value has to be bought by all users, and if it isn’t, idly checking a box isn’t going to change anything. Atul Gawande makes a similar point at TIE: “My suspicion is that a government mandate without a serious effort to change the culture and practice of surgical teams results in limited change and weak, if any, reduction in mortality. But it’s hard to know from the Ontario study. Without measuring actual compliance with using the checklist, it’s like running a drug trial without knowing if the patients actually took the drug. Perhaps, however, this study will prompt greater attention to a fundamentally important question for health care reform broadly: how you implement an even simple change in systems that reduces errors and mortality – like a checklist. For there is one thing we know for sure: if you don’t use it, it doesn’t work.”
  • Really interesting idea, but before you wax poetic about it, remember that a) it’s a marketing stunt, basically; and b) the article doesn’t touch on costs, maintenance, etc. etc. – the boring stuff that matters a lot more than the “sexy” invention
  • If you get The New Yorker, I think you’ll enjoy The Relive Box, the fiction piece from a recent week
  • Pretty interesting interview with Bill Gates on American politics, global health, and innovation

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