What I’m Listening To

It’s summer in Minnesota, which means that I don’t have to teach or attend (too many) meetings, and I can spend entire days working on research. This in turn means that I listen to a whole lot of music while working.

And since it’s summer, I have also decided to post on lighter topics every once in a while. If I can make one person discover one new album with each one of these posts, I’ll be happy. Music has played a huge role in my life (I am where I am today because I failed the audition for the jazz guitar program at Collège Saint-Laurent in Montreal), and I think my tastes are eclectic enough so that someone, somewhere might discover a new thing or two from my sharing them. So for the start of this new series of posts, here is what I have been listening to these past few weeks, with video highlights. Continue reading

Does Walmart Make the World Smaller? (And How to Write Introductions)

In an article that has one of the coolest titles I have seen so far this year –”From Beijing to Bentonville: Do Multinational Retailers Link Markets?” — Keith Head and his coauthors explore whether the presence of stores like Walmart and Carrefour in Chinese cities have led to more export activities in those cities, and they find that indeed it did. Here is their abstract: Continue reading

Can Yelp Help Track Food-Borne Illness?

I have been working on a paper about food-borne illness lately, and one of the things I have learned is that for a specific outbreak of food-borne illness to show up in the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) data, the stars need to be properly aligned.

Specifically, you have to get sick enough that you see the doctor about it. Then, upon determining that your illness was food-borne, your doctor needs to notify the health authorities of the county you live in. Finally, the health authorities in your county need to notify the CDC. So necessarily, the CDC data on food-borne illnesses is an undercount, and just how systematic is this undercounting varies by state… which poses a number of econometric problems for this researcher. Continue reading

Who Was the First to Use Randomization in Development Economics, and When?

If you answered “Probably Esther Duflo, sometime in the early 2000s?” just as I did, you were wrong, just as I was.

As it turns, Immink and Viteri were the first to use randomization in a two-part article (part 1 is here; part 2 is there) testing the efficiency wage hypothesis published in the Journal of Development Economics in 1981: Continue reading