Microcredit as aid; Justin Lin, Paul McCartney and the development hit parade; RCT Nerdwar; bias in development research; slutwalks in the South; untouchable video diaries: links I liked

“While microcredit has, on average, no effect on poverty, it can produce significant benefits for the poorest people, by enabling them to manage volatile and uncertain incomes.  We should think of microcredit not as a catalyst for economic growth, but as a utility, providing a key service to poor people. Subsidizing the provision of this service is a relatively low-cost way to help people to increase their welfare” Owen Barder summarizes David Roodman’s thinking on microfinance

Outgoing World Bank chief economist Justin Lin draws chart-justinpost-may17inspiration from Paul McCartney and celebrates some amazing development success stories (see chart)

Heavyweight nerdwar on Randomized Control Trials: Angus Deaton (against) v Abhijit Banerjee (for). Everything on video from 4 minute clips of their arguments to the full 90 minute debate

“Bias is an inescapable element of research, especially in fields… that strive to isolate cause–effect relations in complex systems in which relevant variables and phenomena can never be fully identified or characterized…” Ben Ramalingam on structural bias in development research and what to do about it

The Slutwalk movement arrives in Brazil and Kolkata. Empowering or playing into the hands of patriarchy? Reckon we should have a poll?

‘ARTICLE 17 is a campaign launched by Video Volunteers to urge the National Commission for Schedule Castes, (the government body that is constitutionally appointed to direct and implement the safeguards against untouchability), to prosecute cases of untouchability. Community Correspondents across the country are documenting video testimonies of different forms of untouchability. The first 22 videos are featured here and more will be added as the campaign continues.’ A campaign on the state of India’s dalits (untouchables), based on a series of one minute films made by dalits themselves, showing what they face everywhere from fetching water to going to school to watching cricket, through the work of the Indian-based NGO, Video Volunteers. VV is having two screenings in London on June 22 and June 26 to raise funds for its work.

Here’s 40 seconds of a dalit woman explaining how she has ‘polluted’ the water taps by using them, so those that come after her must first wash the taps. Watch the rest when you can.

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Comments

4 Responses to “Microcredit as aid; Justin Lin, Paul McCartney and the development hit parade; RCT Nerdwar; bias in development research; slutwalks in the South; untouchable video diaries: links I liked”
  1. I would have thought that the debate on effectiveness of micro-finance in poverty alleviation would have been laid to rest by now. I do believe that it helps people sliding further into poverty (a social security mechanism more than an empowering mechanism). If you look closely at what is happening in Bangladesh where it all began you will see that:

    1. Most women, who are often the targets for microfinance, use it for consumption purposes.
    2. Repayment rates are high because women, very smartly, use membership of multiple micro-finance facilities to keep the debt revolving. They are smart enough to know that if they default, the agency will turn off the tap.
    3. This increases money circulation but does precious little to lift people out of the poverty trap since very little money is put in entrepreneurial activities anyway.
    4. NGOs and Microfinance companies continue to hawk this ‘facility’ aggressively because it makes good business sense – the ‘facilitating’ agency earns its share from the interest spread – it gets funds at say 8% and gives it out at say 18%. The more funding you put out in the ‘market’, more the money you stand to make.

    At the same time though, one must acknowledge that micro-finance has broken the back of traditional, usurious money lenders. When one is used to paying 10-25% a month to a money lender for a small loan, the 2% per month to the micro-finance agency sounds like a gift.

  2. Sophia Murphy

    Check out the comment on Justin Lin’s post – another Beatles song for development. Maybe you can host a little competition for best “anthem for development” from the world of rock ‘n’ roll…

    Pity that Lin makes such excellent points in the first few paragraphs, only to create another prescription in the last. Instead of industrial world assumptions imposed on other countries, which he rightly criticizes, he gives us an economist’s assumptions imposed on the rest of us, as if politics, culture, ecology and history did not exist.

    Still, I’m all for optimism.

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