21 December 2013

60% discount on holiday giving

I've been frustrated this year about not really being able to give to GiveDirectly because they aren't registered in the UK and so are ineligible for Gift Aid (a 25% top-up donation by the government taken from your income tax payment).

I just discovered that this PROBLEM IS NOW SOLVED.

The new Giving What We Can Trust is eligible for Gift Aid, and they will pass on your money directly (plus gift aid) to the charity of your choice (as long as its either one of their recommended charities, or one of Givewell's recommended charities, which GiveDirectly is, though I'm guessing there is some additional bank charge for the trust to send money to GiveDirectly in the US?).

On top of this, Good Ventures (an awesome foundation financed by one of Facebook's co-founders) is offering a 100% match for any donations to GiveDirectly up to January 31st 2014.

So if you give £100 to the trust, this becomes £125 with gift aid, and £250 with the match (which is your 60% discount), which minus processing fees comes to around £225 directly in the hands of a family living in extreme poverty somewhere in rural Kenya, a pretty hefty chunk of cash when you're living on a dollar a day.

Big thanks to everyone at Give Directly, Give Well, Giving What We Can, Good Ventures, and Innovations for Poverty Action who have made this stunningly simple effective efficient way to make the world a slightly better place possible.

Merry Christmas!

Why are flights in Africa so expensive?

Part of the reason is the lack of competition on so many routes, because countries restrict the rights of airlines from third countries to connect them with other countries - so called "fifth freedom" rights - despite an agreement to do this in 1999.
A comprehensive 2010 World Bank study led by Charles Schlumberger looked at a number of specific examples of what happened when routes have been liberalized in Africa. When the Nairobi-Johannesburg route was fully opened up in 2003, passenger volumes increased 69-fold. When the domestic South African market was liberalized, passenger volumes increased by 80 per cent. On average in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), routes that were liberalized saw fares drop by 18 per cent. The study estimates that full liberalization in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region would increase passenger volumes by around 20 per cent.
More here (by me) on the AfDB Integrating Africa blog.

16 December 2013

Two ways to make the world a better place

According to Angus Deaton, either be like Jean Drèze, or be like CGD. He actually comes off pretty well in this interview.
"The moral obligation is important because I don’t want it to sound like I’m a heartless bastard who has no interest in this partly because there’s just this: these people are hurting and if you can help them you ought to help them. Secondly, some of their hurt is to do with us, you know the colonial programme was not a great success. It might have been a great success for the Brits, it was not a great success for what happened in India. So we owe them big.
I have students I meet at Princeton who come to me and say “I want to devote my life to making the world a better place” and “I want to dedicate my self to reducing global poverty” and I say there are two ways: one is impossibly hard but I know at least one person who did that, some other people have done it. You go to Sierra Leone, you go to India or wherever. You become a citizen, you use your skills to help local groups agitate. You don’t take any money from outside, you just become like them and you use the skills and knowledge you’ve learnt here to help them. My friend Jean Drèze is an activist in India who’s been incredibly successful in doing this. He had to renounce his Belgian citizenship, it was very hard for him to even get that done. He lives without money because he’s frightened of being compromised by that and he’s been enormously successful. But it’s like the camel going through the eye of the needle right? It’s hard. 
The other thing I tell my students to do is go to Washington and tell them to stop selling arms to poor countries. These are very very articulate smart kids who are going to be national leaders and god knows what else. You may not think you have much power now but you really do – go and get high positions, go and put pressure on these bastards to stop doing this. There’s a lot of stuff about aid but not that much publicity for debt relief. What about publicity about Britain selling arms? Fighting on those causes is something that people in our, rich countries have the legitimacy and standing to do because they’re citizens of those countries."
There is also some praise for DFID despite concerns about the strong incentives to keep dispersing no matter what:
"I was at DFID recently and they were actually much more receptive than I thought they would be. Many of these arguments are fully familiar to them, which tells me that it’s a very good aid agency. They’re people who don’t have their heads buried in the sand."
Read the rest here (and part one here), via Tom H

13 December 2013

Statistical literacy at DFID

Some fascinating results from a new survey of DFID staff about their use and knowledge about evidence (credit to DFID for doing this and for publishing it), including these delicious stats:

84% seem to know what an RCT is
77% know what a census is, aaaaaaand
39% know what a national sample survey is.

hmmmmmmmmm........... maybe there is a point somewhere after all in all of this scepticism about the RCT hype ........?

Are South African kids worse educated than Tanzanian kids?

Although South Africans are more likely to actually be in school, they are also more likely to be functionally illiterate. 

From an integration of measures of access and quality for primary education by Nic Spaull and Stephen Taylor. They call it "effective enrolment" and I like it. 

12 December 2013

Development as.... development?

When I told people at my secondary school I was going to university to do "Development Studies" the girls thought it was really sweet that I was interested in child development. To which I kind of thought (but probably failed to very well articulate) "fuck off, I'm going to study the development of whole countries and economies with factories and industry and epic social transformation and all that, not little kids or whatever."

Funny how this path somehow led me to the latest international development focus on early child development goddamnit

11 December 2013

We don't need no education

I have a massive backlog of half-written draft blog posts that I'm going to try and start getting out the door, so, er, enjoy the early Christmas presents or something?!

OPM organised a workshop earlier this year in Oxford with JICA and Kobe University to discuss preparations for a session at the Tokyo Conference on International Development on Youth Employment in Africa. The absolute stand-out highlight for me was Francis Teal presenting his paper entitled “Education for Job Creation” in which he argued vehemently that spending money on education in Africa is a total waste of time if your goal is job creation.

I am very biased because Francis taught me how to do research, but.

Francis would probably hate the use of a trendy neologism, but what he is basically saying is that the binding constraint to good job creation is on the demand-side rather than the supply-side. Education in Africa might be often of poor quality, but dramatically improving the quality is unlikely to lead to jobs with improved incomes unless Africa can create better linkages to sources of demand. To do this it needs to connect better to the global economy. 

Here are a couple of pieces of illustrative evidence.

Chart 1: There is basically no correlation between the growth rates of aggregate levels of education, and aggregate levels of income













Chart 2: At the individual level, although there is a positive correlation between education and earnings, the more important point is the massive variation around the average. Until you get above 20 years, an education in Africa really doesn't guarantee anything at all


Interesting, provocative stuff, which sits uncomfortably with economists and education policy wonks with an interest in Africa. Perhaps I need to resign myself to education for the sake of education? Something vague about culture and philosophy and the intrinsic worth of education? Is there any better evidence for the benefits of education than this?


and video from the CSAE conference here: http://fsmevents.com/csae/session2/

05 December 2013

Awareness raising for development: nonsequitur of the day

only 30% [of EU citizens] see education as a priority [for development] ... There is still a lot of awareness raising we need to be doing in the education sector. (says Global Partnership for Education staff member)
I'm trying to keep the snark to a minimum these days but this was too tempting. Personally I think it is appalling that the EU public doesn't see improving the welfare of economists and consultants as the top continent-wide priority, and there is a lot of awareness raising to be done to help citizens appreciate just how under-appreciated economists are.

More constructively, call me crazy but maybe just maybe it should be developing country citizens who are setting the development priorities rather than EU citizens?

And finally, "raising awareness" is actually already on the development #bannedlist so just stop it. If you want to sell or market your product or idea that is fine, but would you ever say that Coca-Cola are sensitizing people or raising awareness about their great taste? Exactly. What you are talking about is advertising or marketing. And to go out on a bit of a limb - isn't it possible that the very language of "sensitization" and "awareness raising" actually helps to reinforce the unhelpful narrative of expert foreigners with all the answers showing up to tell the ignorant locals what is what - and thereby contributing to the general lack of attention paid to the opinions of the poor? Wooooah, I might have betrayed a bit of exposure to SOASian critical theory there. But language matters.  
"if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought ... Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." Mr. Orwell, 1946

03 December 2013

28 November 2013

Best charity in the world update

Depressing news from Givewell on the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF).

The good news: Givewell has directed $10m in the last 2 years to AMF. 

The bad news: This is a massive increase in scale for AMF, and they haven't yet managed to spend the money. This seems to be primarily because the transparency and accountability measures that help to make them such an attractive proposition for donors, also makes them a pretty unattractive proposition for implementers such as national governments. 

There's something about a sexy new NGO innovation which then runs into trouble when it tries to scale-up working through national government that sounds somehow familiar.

We shouldn't be too disheartened - this is hopefully just a set-back and the money will still eventually be spent. And it is still useful to model what good practice can look like even it is isn't replicated more widely immediately. But "room for more funding" - the capacity to implement at large scale, is clearly critical here. 

In the short-term this implies finding someone else to give your money to - your two best options seem to be Give Directly (tax deductible in the US) or the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (tax deductible in both the US and UK, but with some concerns here) - neither of which seem to be entirely satisfactory for me as a UK-taxpayer. I'll wait for further comment from Givewell.

25 November 2013

London bicycle stats

# cyclists killed in London in the past 2 weeks: 6
# police deployed to street corners in response, to patronise cyclists and warn them about cycling sensibly, wearing helmets, and listening to music: 2,500
% cyclists killed in London whilst breaking the law: 6%
% cyclists killed in London by a HGV turning left right into them: 50%
Average annual cycle deaths in Amsterdam (where most people don't wear helmets): 6
Average annual cycle deaths in Paris: 2

18 November 2013

Kinshasa Kids


Best aeroplane movie I've seen in a while, following the adventures of some street kids in Kinshasa who start a rap group.

My favourite scene:
Kid 1: What I want is to start a music band so I can escape to Europe. 
Kid 2: I want to be a policeman so I can steal in peace. 
Kid 3: Ah, you have to be a politician to steal with ease!

09 November 2013

Preach!

Really excellent stuff from Jishnu Das, tearing apart a recent Economist article on cash transfers:
recall that in welfare economics there are two rationales for government interventions to make people better off. First, governments fix market failures. ... Second, governments redistribute income by giving cash to the poor. ... Within this framework, giving cash always increases the welfare of the recipients; what we also worry about is the extent to which market failures circumscribe the ability of society to do better.
 ...
“does giving cash work well” is a well-defined question only if you are willing to say that “well” is something that WE, the donors, want to define for families whom we have never met and whose living circumstances we have probably never spent a day, let alone a lifetime, in. 
Has our hubris really taken us that far? What happened to respect for the poor? 
From there The Economist article degenerates, with “findings” that CCTs “work well” when the conditions are on things that people would not purchase without the conditions (I am serious; cut through the jargon, and that’s what it says). If by now you are tearing your hair out, join the club.
...
Health is not welfare, neither is education. So, can we please stop making judgments about what poor people should and should not do with money that is redistributed to them?

05 November 2013

Problems with private schools

There were a few good comments on my Guardian piece the other week that are worth highlighting.

One of the most most important points is that when private schools get the same results as public schools for a fraction of the cost, they are still getting woefully bad, unacceptably poor learning outcomes.

Suvojit and Heather raise the issue that results are only going to be comparable when teacher effort can substitute for training - this is possible at lower grades but likely to get more difficult at higher grades with older children and more difficult material.

But neither of these for me damage the case for directly supporting private primary schools if they are still doing the same job substantially cheaper.

A criticism that might do this is one that Anurag Behar (CEO of the Azim Premji Foundation, a leading organisation on education research) makes in a Mint column, which strikes at the heart of the private school business model. His argument is that private school teachers only accept such low wages because they are "queueing" for a government teacher job.
It’s clear that the salaries of teachers in most such private schools are very low, bordering on the exploitative. The reasons why they get teachers at these salaries are fairly simple. Most of those who join private schools as teachers are those who are waiting and trying to join government schools. Since recruitment of government teachers has its own pace and scale (though it has become “cleaner” in many states), many keep waiting and trying for years, and it’s this lot that largely feeds the private schools. Eventually of those who don’t make it to the government system, many leave teaching to do other things, which is not surprising, given their salaries.
One reason to doubt this story is that if those private school teachers are unqualified then they aren't eligible for a government teacher job. But I'm open to persuasion if there is any data here?

31 October 2013

Development as Burritos


This one has been sitting in my drafts folder for months, but Hausmann just got me thinking about it again.

"Meze Fresh" is probably one of the best places to eat in Kigali. Certainly one of the fastest. It's a Chipotle-style Mexican place, with a range of salads, meats, salsas, and sauces in a bar at the front that are thrown together in a tortilla in no time at all. Plus they do margaritas. The owner, I'm told, is a young American guy in his 20s who worked in a Chipotle back home in California, and basically borrowed the entire concept and replicated it here. A similar thing is going on with the Office, or with the young Americans in Kigali setting up their own gyms and solar energy businesses.

To some extent, that is what development is. Borrowing ideas. At least that's what catch-up growth is. At the world technological frontier you need to invent new ideas to get economic growth, but for most developing countries you can get a long way just copying other ideas.

Hausmann's point is that it takes people to transfer ideas, because it's really hard to teach people things that depend upon learning by doing. Which resonates with the experience of all these expats in Kigali who came to do traditional aid work, decided they liked living there, and started spotting all these business opportunities based on ideas from back home. The policy implications of this? For developing countries, one is to make it really easy for people to come visit and live in your country. Rwanda is doing this. The kind of bureaucracy and visa fees you find in many other countries is just incredibly short-sighted.

I'm also reminded of another Hausmann contribution - growth diagnostics. In a place like Rwanda, having got the basics of physical security, macroeconomic stability, decent government administration, and infrastructure under control, one of the things that might start to bind as a constraint to growth is "information externalities."


Any suggestions for what any of this implies for donor policy? Can we and would we want to increase subsidies for foreign investment?

The Mr. Miyagi Theory of Economic Development

Very interesting hypothesis from Ricardo Hausmann on Project Syndicate.
The bottom line is that urbanization, schooling, and Internet access are woefully insufficient to transmit effectively the tacit knowledge required to be productive. That is why today’s emerging markets are so much less productive than rich countries were in 1960, even though the latter were less urban, had higher birth rates and less formal schooling, and used much older technologies. 
The policy implications are clear. Knowhow resides in brains, and emerging and developing countries should focus on attracting them, instead of erecting barriers to skilled immigration. They should tap into their diasporas, attract foreign direct investment in new areas, and acquire foreign firms if possible. Knowledge moves when people do.
The Karate Kid reference is from the very entertaining powerpoint here.

24 October 2013

South Sudan: Safer (for aid workers) than detroit?

"There are 17,000 aid workers in South Sudan, making it one of the largest aid operations in the world. In 2012 there were 25 major attacks on aid workers ... With 9 murders of aid workers, that puts the aid worker murder rate in South Sudan at 53 per 100,000. How does this compare to the murder rates of other places?" 
From Aid Leap

23 October 2013

How to fix education in developing countries

Annie Lowrey interviews Lant Pritchett in the NYT, who argues

1. We need to think about the whole system rather than just single interventions
2. We need clear goals in terms of learning outcomes, what we are trying to achieve
3. We need local flexibility to come up with solutions to achieve those clearly agreed goals

I'm struck that if we believe this (and I think I do), then effective management of systems of public service delivery looks a lot like effective management of individual people - set clear outcome goals but don't micromanage the process.

Well worth reading in full.

On private schools, Lant has this to say:
"You can get local control by increasing the number of private schools — I’m not advocating privatization as a solution, but those private schools are freed from being in a top-down bureaucracy, and in India and Pakistan, they do better with less resources."

14 October 2013

Some of my best friends are knee-jerk leftists

I wrote a thing for the Guardian blog defending aid in support of private schools in developing countries. Which is very exciting because I've been reading the Guardian every day since I was 16. Some of the comments are a bit colourful, so for the record I feel I should burnish my lefty credentials (even though this feels really lame as it's exactly the kind of thing that annoys me when the likes of Goodhart and Collier do it before they go on to support mainstream Conservative party opinion).  

But for what it's worth, I started my lefty career when I was 6, when my "Dennis the Menace fan club says no Gulf war" poster made it to the local news. I went campaigning door-to-door for the Labour party when I was 8. I wrote to the Green party asking for a copy of their manifesto when I was 10. When I was 15 I vandalised the Conservative party billboard in my neighbourhood, and volunteered for a local Labour MP when I was 17.

I'm proud of having attended my local comprehensive school in Leeds. I'm proud that my fiercely liberal granddad sent my mum to the local comprehensive school on principle, instead of the more conveniently located selective school. I'm proud of my mum who was a school teacher for 20 years, and my aunt and uncle and grandparents, who all work or worked for the NHS (which yes, I'm also proud of).

I worry a lot about private schools in the UK, and the consequences for social mobility and segregation. 

So I'm not a natural supporter of private schools. But I care about evidence - and my reading of it is that there is a great potential to do good by experimenting with private sector service provision in education in developing countries. (Many other intelligent people, including several colleagues - none of whom are knee-jerk leftists - disagree with me, but thankfully none of them have yet accused me of "plain bullshit", "neo-con mantra", being a Mugabe-apologist, or a "twat.")

03 October 2013

India fact of the day

In India, remittances are larger than the country’s earnings from IT exports.
From Dilip Ratha 

02 October 2013

A naked man in a tie

My favourite description of the country came from Souleiman Youssouf, a 35-year-old Somalilander who lives and works in Canada but tries to visit every year. “Somaliland is a naked man in a tie,” he told me, in a vivid reference to the way the country spans extremes of development. Ageing nomads still walk the plains with their camels, but they can also call the US at cheap rates on the territory’s extremely competitive and successful mobile telephone networks. And although no other territory in the world recognises it, Somaliland strives to run itself as any other nation-state. It holds elections, passes laws and collects taxes – however meagre – and has developed an impressive clutch of commercial mobile phone, mobile internet and money transfer services.
From Katrina Manson's notes on her visit to the 6th Annual Hargeisa International Book Fair. My favourite short story about economics set in Hargeisa is here.

01 October 2013

How to switch careers into international development

A 6-part guide from Rachel Strohm (formerly of IPA and other things):

1. What is development
2. What interests you
3. Building transferable skills
4. Unpaid internships
5. What to do if you can't go unpaid
6. CVs and cover letters

And whilst I'm on the subject - a plug for an exciting new job for a social science PhD to work with OPM and the University of Bath to develop better ways of integrating quantitative and qualitative methods in development policy impact evaluation.

30 September 2013

Advice for new ODI fellows

Some assorted advice for this year's crop of ODI fellows who will be heading out soon (former fellows - what else should they know?).

1. Your main job (should) be translating economic theory and evidence into English. (see for example, Portes or Coats)

2. Your main job will actually be poring over spreadsheets.


4. You can probably give up on the idea of building much capacity.

5. But that's ok. The ODI fellowship is as much about gap-filling as capacity building. (As an aside, even with stratospheric levels of growth, poor countries will remain poor for a while. If you have 10% annual income growth but only start with $500, it takes 32 years to get to $10,000, the "rich country poverty line". Poor countries will need external assistance for a while. Worrying too much about the short-term sustainability of projects is over-rated. African success stories such as Botswana and Rwanda have relied heavily on external assistance over long periods).

6. Don't wear flip-flops to the office.

7. Don't take any crap about the fellowship. A 2009 review concluded that:
"it has spawned hundreds of careers in economic development as well as launched prominent scholars and distinguished civil servants. It had done so with very modest resources and a management that has stretched itself to fit and to cover, earning the praise of its Fellows, current and former, and the grateful recognition of its delivery of quality service by host governments. There is very little that needs to be done to maintain and sustain this successful partnership. What has been recommended in this review are simply steps to ensure its continuity and survival. There is no need to provide extended encomiums—the alumni, DFID and the satisfied client countries already said what needs to be said. The ODI Fellowship Scheme is a success."

How to quit your job in style



HT: Scott

23 September 2013

South Sudan macro update

A friend writes:
"Sudan Tribune today reports that Sudanese Dinar is today at 8.2 to the USD in KRT, street, 4.4 official. SSP meanwhile at 4.something to the USD, street, and 3.2 official."
So whilst the Government of South Sudan continues to lose money to corruption through the fixed artificially strong exchange rate (last year Chris Adam and I estimated the cost to be around 12-15% of government spending), they aren't losing as much as North Sudan, who are really taking the piss.

And at least inflation seems to have stabilised this year after a huge increase in prices through 2011 and 2012.

Source: SSNBS

What will it cost to eliminate poverty?

Development Initiatives have a new report out today with, complete with some good-looking charts, reviewing the global picture of financing for development.

A couple of charts really stand out.

First this one, showing the depth of poverty. Ending "extreme" poverty - the 1.2 billion below $1.25 a day is feasible by 2030, but there are 5.2 billion living on less than $10 a day, which is roughly the poverty line in most rich countries. 



Second, this one, showing the level of per capita government spending. 82% of the world's poor live in countries with annual spending below $1,000 per person. I'm not so sure what to make of this. For those in countries with spending below $500, which looks like around half of the global poor, this puts paid to the notion that the poor all now live in middle income countries that should be funding their own social programmes without aid.

For those closer to the $1,000 mark, this is still really a pittance, but it's also more than enough to bring individuals above the poverty line with a direct cash transfer. How does it feel to live on less than $1.25 a day in a country where the government spends twice that much for you on public services?



19 September 2013

Where has all the education impact come from?

Lant Pritchett wrote an important paper back in 2000 called "Where has all the education gone." Despite a big increase in schooling in developing countries, there had been little increase on average in productivity.

Now I feel like we have the opposite problem - evidence that going to school has all sorts of wonderful impacts transforming lives

(- saves lives
- improves child nutrition
- increases job opportunities
- reduces child marriage
- reduces early birth
- makes people more tolerant
- leads to economic growth
- leads to more concern with the environment)

alongside evidence that many kids never actually learnt anything at school.

What's the deal? Are the positive impacts driven entirely by the kids who did learn something (the average treatment effect on both learners and non-learners), or is there something special and intangible (non-cognitive skills and character?) which kids can pick up from just sitting in a school even if they don't pick up any reading skills?

Any evidence?

18 September 2013

Do iPhones increase gender inequality?

DFID have just published a new "topic guide" (quick evidence review?) on low cost private schools by Claire Mcloughlin of the University of Birmingham.

This isn't a criticism necessarily of Claire, but I am struck by how strange it is that the focus of the debate leads with how private schools affect equity. We are talking about countries such as Nigeria and Pakistan with net primary enrolment rates of less than 75%. I struggle to see how it could be a bad thing in such a context if some parents choose to spend their own money on private schools for their kids, even if no poor parents could afford it and all girls were totally excluded. Doesn't that just mean fewer kids for the state sector to fund? Of course in reality the data suggests that private schools in many countries have roughly similar gender access as public schools, and many poor people (though perhaps not the very poorest) also access private schools. 

Of course when we are talking about aid or government-funded places at private schools then equity should be a key concern, but for privately funded places, who cares? Isn't this totally missing the point? Do we worry about the equity implications of the new iPhone 5s for access to smartphones in the UK (actually I shouldn't be so hasty, soon being smart-phone-less probably will be the official definition of relative poverty). And when did I become so conservative?

04 September 2013

Anti-social evidence-lite education advocacy

I'm trying to be a responsible sector specialist. As Owen Barder wrote way back in 2009.
we should, as a development community, heap scorn and opprobrium on anyone caught advocating for more resources in their sector. We need stronger social norms in development that frown upon this kind of anti-social behaviour.
We should be advocating for more resources for development, but these should be allocated across sectors by the best evidence not the best lobbying. We shouldn't be squabbling between ourselves over our pet projects. 

Sadly in the education sector not everyone seems to be on board with this message. Hugh Evans, the CEO of the Global Poverty Project, is fundraising for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) this year.
Why? While achieving universal schooling by 2015 is a noble goal in and of itself, it must also be emphasised that investing in education is perhaps the most effective and quickest way to reduce poverty.
Uh oh... that sounds like a very confident statement. Does he have evidence for that? He has some:
Investing in education produces enormous yields. For instance, each additional year of schooling raises average annual gross domestic product growth by 0.37 per cent. Also, where the enrollment rate for secondary schooling is 10 per cent higher than the average rate for the population, the risk of war is reduced by around 3 per cent. And there is more and more evidence that proves increased access to education has significant flow on effects. Like the promotion of girls’ and women’s rights, falling infant mortality rates, and increased crop yields.
BUT. I'm pretty sure that all of that evidence he is referring to doesn't actually say anything about causality, and only really tells us something about correlations. There are no national-level experiments here. Countries that have higher rates of schooling may also have slightly faster growth, but we have known since the penis paper that looking at correlates of economic growth at the national level is mostly stupid. Countries with more schooling might indeed be less likely to be at war, but this DOES NOT prove that it was the schooling wot done it. The individual-level "micro" studies are generally more persuasive than the country-level "macro" studies, but even there most of them are looking at correlations rather than real or natural experiments.

Second - to make a statement that "education is perhaps the most effective and quickest way to reduce poverty" implies that you have also looked at the cost-effectiveness of all the other possible anti-poverty interventions. No discussion of that here.

And finally, no discussion at all of learning outcomes (see for example Schooling is not Education!). Keep up Hugh. 

28 August 2013

Mathematising External Validity

Paul Krugman, Noah Smith, and Bryan Caplan had an interesting debate last week on the use (and misuse) of maths in economics.

A helpful illustration is provided this month by a new paper by Lant Pritchett and Justin Sandefur on external validity and RCTs (handy Charles Kenny summary in BusinessWeek here).

The concept of external validity is pretty simple to grasp intuitively. An experiment might give you a good estimate of the impact of a programme in a certain context, but it can't tell you if the same programme will have the same impact in a totally different context.

This is something which is especially obvious when you are actually working on national policy. When you are a writing a brief for a politician or an NGO on an issue, it would just feel stupid to lead with evidence from a totally different country if there is any data at all from the country you are actually in. Not that studies from other countries are uninteresting, but it is just blindingly clear that there are a lot of differences in political, social, and economic context between countries that might make results from a similar programme quite different, and so to use some caution in drawing conclusions, even from perfectly executed experimental studies.

At yet at the same time, "external validity" can seem like a bit of a hand-wavy rebuttal compared to all of the extensive technical theory around internal validity - whether your study is likely to give a biased estimate of programme impact on the population you are studying. There is a lot of detailed methodological analysis looking at exactly what the causes of bias are in different studies and how this bias can be best avoided. So what Pritchett's and Sandefur's paper does is add some detail to the our understanding of external validity, add some maths, and somehow make the critique seem somehow weightier. I think I still find their empirical examples more compelling than their theory, because I'm slow with maths and more interested in empirics, but nonetheless it does seem important to have that kind of systematic logical thinking through of the detail of a problem.

The bottom line:
- Economath - not totally useless, but you can probably get the intuition without it.
- External validity - an important concern, and sometimes contextual understanding matters more than clean identification - but also a reason for more experiments where possible not less

27 August 2013

India wonkwar: Sen vs Bhagwati

This is a guest post by Vinayak Uppal (previously an economist in South Sudan, more recently at DFID India, soon to be OPM), summing up the recent debates between heavyweight economists Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati. He would opt for reading Bhagwati if you had to pick only one. 

Is there some action a government of India could take that would lead the Indian economy to grow like Indonesia's...If so, what, exactly? ...The consequences for human welfare involved in questions like these are simply staggering: Once one starts to think about them, it is hard to think about anything else.”

Thinking about India is precisely what some of India’s best-known economists have been doing. An Uncertain Glory, written by Amartya Sen and long time collaborator, Jean Dreze, and India’s Tryst With Destiny by Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagriya[1] are two recent books that put the spotlight on Indian development.

Economists, even global leaders such as these, rarely make mainstream headlines. The last few weeks however have seen regular updates to an increasingly acrimonious, personal and bitter spat, being played out in op-eds, letters, interviews and talks all over the world, increasingly with strong political overtones.

So what are they saying, and what is the disagreement over?

Sen argues that India under-performs significantly in a variety of social indicators. It therefore needs to focus on building human capital like health and education first, with such services (largely) provided by the State rather than viewing growth as an end in itself.

Bhagwati's book reads like a capitalist manifesto, making a strong case for the gains that reforms have brought the average Indian through economic growth, and argues that far more reforms are needed to sustain progress.

Like all good debates, there is plenty of disagreement. Sen has stated previously that in an under-nourished country such as India, it is stupid to focus obsessively on growth. He points out how India is now like “islands of California in a sea of Sub Saharan Africa”. Bhagwati takes a far more positive view of growth, highlighting the hundreds of millions of people pulled out of poverty in the decades since growth accelerated, and the rapid improvements in almost all social indicators. 

Sen clearly believes that basic services can, and should, be delivered through State systems, rightly highlighting many of the gains made in states like Himachal Pradesh and Kerala. Bhagwati comes out firmly on the side of cash transfers in many of the social services like health and education. His view of the public sector can be simplistic, seeing almost any money spent through government as a waste.

There remain a number of untouched issues. Both are relatively quiet on the environment. Sen skirts around economic reforms and growth, giving only passing references to crucial issues like infrastructure, labour reforms and increasing job creation. Bhagwati’s views on improving governance are limited, as are his views on how to combat corruption and social exclusion. His book also doesn’t answer the basic conundrum of why India has been unable to provide its citizens with a basic standard of living, despite being the world’s biggest democracy and many of its poorer neighbours performing far better.

It is important in the middle of this heated debate, to remember that they agree on the fundamentals. (Bhagwati clearly disagrees with this, calling Kaushik Basu and Montek Ahluwalia simplistic bureaucrats for suggesting such a thing!) Neither of them is debating the importance of growth or questioning the need to spend resources on delivering health and education.

These are both big books attempting to grapple with the pressing issues facing India today. They are also both rather staid books; no Poor Economics or More Than Good Intentions style human-interest stories pepper the chapters. Instead they are filled with academic references, charts and statistics to better illustrate their points. Yet, both are worth a read. They present different views on development, with areas of agreement, but also fundamental differences in approach and priorities.

If I had to pick one recommendation, it would be Bhagwati’s which seems more comprehensive, better argued and more grounded in India’s reality where the problem is often not poor policy, but poor implementation of policy. It also thankfully presents his views on policy, unlike some of his downright nasty editorials, which may be one reason the only Nobel he has won has been in Springfield.

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[1] For ease of reading, the views are presented as Sen’s and Bhagwati’s individually, though the books are jointly written by Sen and Dreze, and Bhagwati and Panagriya respectively.

22 August 2013

Lean in: A call for (female) guest bloggers

Andi called me out the other day for a slightly skewed gender distribution of guest bloggers. I like to think of myself as a feminist, so before I post yet another guy (tomorrow), do any female readers want to write something?

Some suggested style guidelines:

Keep it short (though up to 800 words ish)
Keep the words and sentences short
Go heavy on data, charts, and references
Go heavy on tenuous links to celebrity or scandal (think buzzfeed)

Keep it tightly focused on my narrow areas of interest and expertise (ahem, absolutely anything even vaguely related to absolutely any part of development and/or economics)

My blog reading list is also relatively light on women - suggestions there are also welcome.

20 August 2013

How many kids attended school in South Sudan today?

You'll soon be able to find out online from live SMS reports, currently being piloted in Lainya County near Juba (1,319 girls and 1,507 boys reported present so far today in case you were wondering, 84 girls absent and 136 boys absent), with plans to roll out to the whole country. Data is reported by state, county, and even by school. As CG says, "South Sudan may not be at the top on most things, but on SMS real time school attendance monitoring, we think we may actually be leading the world." Ana Fii Inni (I am here!) is a South Sudan Ministry of Education project being supported by the DFID Girl's Education Programme.

Unrelated, I'm also told that it is possible to procure schools through the church in South Sudan for half of the $30,400 figure reported here.

How you can literally give a whole family their entire annual income today for $1,000

Planet Money & This American Life have a really great new show on GiveDirectly.

What's best are the interviews with the recipients. It makes me feel very warm to imagine someone like Bernard Omondi in a remote village waking up one morning in slight disbelief to an SMS message containing $1,000 - his family's entire annual income - more cash than he has ever had at one time in his life - and that I sent him that.

A few things really struck me.

First, that even the recipients are sceptical about cash. Although they all explained how they themselves invested the money sensibly, they were quick to judge others in the village and explain how they had totally wasted theirs on booze. Perhaps this is a psychological thing and humans just have some kind of deep suspicion that everyone else is a bit of an idiot who needs taking care of? It reminds me of the surveys that show the overwhelming majority of drivers think that they are well above average (which is impossible). It's all the other road users who are idiots. Is that right? What is the relevant psychological bias? And what is the way of addressing this? The mounting evidence doesn't really seem to be doing the trick of convincing people.

Second, and related to that point, there seemed to be some surprise that many of the households had invested in a new metal roof. A chief criticism of someone who had "wasted" the transfer was "look at him, he still has a straw roof!" Now a metal roof which lasts for ten years actually turns out to be a great investment compared to a grass roof which needs constant costly maintenance. But I also wonder whether the fact that the transfer was explicitly targeted only on people with grass roofs had anything to do with people's choices? Might some people have got the new roof because they thought that's what the transfer was for?

Third, that "we are all poor around here." There are good reasons to think that selective-targeting of transfers can damage social relations. One of the recipients says "I've lost a few friends." Which could be important if you then later need to rely on those friends when you're in a tough spot. And so GiveDirectly are trying out a new model, identify a poor village and then give cash to everyone in the village, something that people asked for repeatedly when I spoke to recipients in Kenya and Eastern DRC.

Finally, there is an interview with a woman from Heifer International, which Chris Blattman comments on here (I think he actually goes a bit lightly on them). I actually think that sending a cow could be a great intervention, but it was just an embarrassing performance, which suggested that the organisation doesn't seem to believe at all that data can be informative about effectiveness, and doesn't seem to care at all about value for money (Heifer can't or won't even provide a per family cost for their programme, because "every family is different"). My money will keep going to the organisations interested in evidence and value for money. 

06 August 2013

"Only a parent that doesn’t love his child will send him to a public school"

This comment made by a highly educated principal of a private school shocked me greatly. This was before I interviewed public school teachers. Their responses perplexed me even more. ‘Corrupted’, ‘miscreants’, ‘thugs’, ‘wretched’, ‘from bad homes’, ‘don’t value education’ …were some of the common terms with which public school teachers described their pupils.
Fascinating stuff on low fee private schools in Lagos from Modupe Adefeso-Olateju

02 August 2013

Hey Angus! That's why we give directly!

Angus Deaton has a new book (via Tyler), which will no doubt provide a magisterial lesson in economic history, but I'm afraid we're going to have to agree to disagree on policy.

He starts off well (there are a couple of pdf chapters online at the publishers' website here)
I believe that we—meaning those of us who are fortunate enough to have been born in the “right” countries—have a moral obligation to help reduce poverty and ill health in the world.
And then gives a rehearsal of some of those old aid arguments - yeah maybe individual projects are good for people but what about all those bad political incentives. Essentially the balance of evidence really falls on neither side, so it kind of comes down to personal judgement, or taste, or whatever, and Angus had decided that despite sending kids to school and saving lives (for sure) the negative political impacts of aid (possibly) are larger, making for a net negative total impact.
The concern with foreign aid is not about what it does to poor people around the world—indeed it touches them too rarely—but about what it does to governments in poor countries. The argument that foreign aid can make poverty worse is an argument that foreign aid makes governments less responsive to the needs of the poor, and thus does them harm.  
... Those who advocate more aid need to explain how it can be given in a way that deals with the political constraints.
Well guess what PROBLEM SOLVED Angus - you can skip the government and send yo money DIRECT TO THE POOR PEOPLE RIGHT HERE. Do try and keep up now, GiveDirectly.org have been in business for TWO YEARS already. 

31 July 2013

Probably the best finance Minister in South Sudan yet

Congratulations and good luck to my old boss and one-time guest blogger Aggrey Tisa Sabuni on his appointment as the new finance minister of South Sudan. This is an incredibly difficult job, not likely to be helped by a possible second oil shut-down, but Aggrey Tisa is one of the smartest people I know and probably the best qualified person technically for the job that there is. I wish him well. 

30 July 2013

New DFID Education Policy

DFID released a new "position paper" on education policy yesterday, with lots to like, and lots that chimes with how we are thinking about education at OPM.

First and foremost, the paper rightly places learning front and centre. It's really quite astonishing how neglected actual learning has been in the race to get kids into school, though as this paper shows this is starting to change.

Then there are mentions of the importance of noncognitive skills, of conceiving of education as a process of lifelong learning - including early child development, preschool, through to tertiary and technical education - and focusing on value for money*.

Then there are interesting innovations, such as Payment by results (reminiscent of CGD's "cash on delivery"), and exploring new ways of working with low cost private schools in Lagos and Sindh (OPM is working on research and evaluation for the Lagos project).

And lots of emphasis on research, including highlighting the Young Lives survey, talk of further longitudinal surveys, and a mention of the ESSPIN Nigeria survey some of my colleagues have been working on.

So what's missing?

Although the paper is right to place learning at the heart of the agenda, I don't think it really acknowledges just how little we actually know about how to improve learning. As Lant Pritchett demonstrates in his new book - if you add up all of the results from individual evaluations of various inputs, the total impact on learning outcomes just doesn't come close to getting us to where we want to be. 

This implies we need some radical experimentation. Payment by results and low cost private schools are two promising avenues, but given that this is, in DFID's words, a "learning crisis" - are these enough?

So what to do? Well firstly just more experiments, both large and small, and urgently. 

One idea would be to listen to the one thing that J-PAL and IPA are really pushing. After over a hundred large scale experiments and evaluations of education projects, they have one big idea, which happens to fit pretty neatly with DFID's agenda. This is remedial education, using young low-cost teaching assistants to help the weakest kids catch up. This is an idea developed by Indian NGO Pratham and with rigorous experimental evidence of impact, which IPA has taken and is working with the Government of Ghana to replicate and evaluate on a national scale, working through government systems. Why isn't DFID funding the next programme like this?

---

*As a sad little footnote, unsurprisingly DFID's worst value for money in education seems to be coming from, you guessed it;
"The cost of classroom construction, for example, ranges from $1,400 in Ethiopia to $30,400 in South Sudan, where years of conflict have dramatically increased the cost of materials and the mobility of skilled personnel.

25 July 2013

What would Einstein say about schooling for all?

From a letter to his 11-year old son 
I am very pleased that you find joy with the piano. This and carpentry are in my opinion for your age the best pursuits, better even than school. Because those are things which fit a young person such as you very well. Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.

24 July 2013

How to make maps

It's not new, but thought I'd share this handy tool "StatPlanet" for mapping country-level and sub-national state-level data. It took me half an hour to download and figure out, and then all you have to do is import your Excel spreadsheet in the right format, and it spits out pretty maps. The list of countries with sub-national maps built-in is here. The interactive flash maps are pretty cool too. 

Nigeria: Primary School Net Attendance Ratio (%)
Source: Nigeria Education Data Survey 2010

21 July 2013

Evidence-based policy-making US-style

Based on our rough calculations, less than $1 out of every $100 of government spending is backed by even the most basic evidence that the money is being spent wisely.
...
Since 1990, the federal government has put 11 large social programs, collectively costing taxpayers more than $10 billion a year, through randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of evaluation. Ten out of the 11—including Upward Bound and Job Corps—showed “weak or no positive effects”
Just in case you thought that there was any danger of the whole results agenda and RCT-fetishism taking over in American politics. From an excellent piece in last month's The Atlantic, which by the way is generally fantastic, I just bought a paper copy for the first time and the whole thing was full of interesting - a critical look at the evidence on over 35 female fertility, a thing about how much health food is actually really unhealthy, a note about how recycling can actually increase carbon emissions because it needs more trucks on the streets, and a piece discussing relationships and gender politics and family from the perspective of a man who has sacrificed his career for his wife's. 

20 July 2013

The one thing that does get delivered in India's government schools

Excellent writing by Abhijeet in the Guardian providing some perspective on the recent deaths in Bihar from school meals.
the midday meals, which reach about 120 million children on every school day, are probably the most successful of all interventions in education that the Indian state has delivered in the past decade. On any school day, a quarter of teachers are absent from government schools (pdf), only 45% of those in school are teaching, but in 87% of schools, a hot meal is served (pdf).

15 July 2013

The revolution might not be televised, but what about development?

One of the latest big things in education research is the importance of what economists have labelled "non-cognitive skills," psychologists call "psychosocial competencies", and humans have been known to call "character." Various studies have found that "cognitive skills" - literacy, numeracy, etc, actually don't do a fantastic job of explaining success later in life, and that it is a bunch of other soft skills which really do matter - things like perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control (perhaps someone should tell Michael Gove?).

All of this was the subject of Stefan Dercon's plenary at Young Lives last week (slides here). The good news is that these characteristics appear to be malleable even into adulthood.

Apparently there is one question to measure "locus of control" which correlates highly with aspirations and investing in the future. The question is simple - which of the following two statements do you most agree with:

  1. “Each person is primarily responsible for his/her success or failure in life.”
  2. “One’s success or failure in life is a matter of his/her destiny/fate.”

If how you think about this question determines how much you save and invest for the future and your attitudes towards this can be positively shifted, then maybe there is a "fatalism trap" which intervention can break. Stefan presented results from an experiment run in Ethiopia to see if optimism could be cultivated by showing poor remote villagers mini-documentaries of inspirational success stories on TV. The shows told the stories of local people who had worked their way out of poverty. The experiment also included both a regular control group and a "placebo" regular TV show, without the particular success stories.



Six months later - the villagers were still talking excitedly talking about the TV show, and more importantly actually spending more on investing in education for their kids.

Of course, the tragic danger is whether these newly raised aspirations will turn out to be a false hope if the economic opportunities to make these investments pay off aren't available.

Yet another reason why TV will save the world?

10 July 2013

How would you spend a billion dollars on children?

The final session at Young Lives yesterday was really fun, and put this question to all of the plenary speakers - given everything you know from all your research, what would you do? A video of the session is up online here along with the other sessions here, and with apologies to the speakers for butchering their arguments into 140 character chunks, I thought I would reproduce my tweeted summaries here: 

Costas Meghir: An integrated preschool programme - from prenatal, stimulation, ECD, preschool

Jere Behrman: Start a program to improve information about education systems - including costs as well as impacts

Karthik Muralidharan:
First get rid of the things that don't work - starting with teacher education, then
1: appropriate curricula and pedagogical materials for teachers,
2: contract teachers - The challenge is how to manage political and legal barriers - the solution is teaching assistants. Build a 4-year teacher training programme into teaching assistant contracts. At end of 4 yrs, some assistants pass exam to become full teachers, ones that fail get an exit payment 3 months salary. 
And a general point - for scale-up - need to work through government systems but need an intermediate step - start small with a district or a state. 

Lant Pritchett: The key is really moving political focus from access to learning outcomes. Do country studies which are a detailed plan of how to reach a set country-specific learning standard. Frame this as a problem that we can solve.

Orazio Attanasio: No easy answers. We don't yet really understand what works, why, and how to do things at scale. (implying more research?)

Paul Glewwe
1. Do TIMMS and PISA for every developing country
2. Pay for performance - e.g. cash on delivery for african gvts if they reach learning outcome standards
3: More Research

Pedro Carneiro: Need some solid plans from ECD people about practical details.

Richard Morgan (UNICEF): Coincidentally, exactly what UNICEF is doing now - including focusing on underexplored areas at this conference - child survival,  stunting (with WASH as an input), and child protection.

The audience vote at the end was unclear (though apparently Richard got most of the non-economists...), so I'm stealing Duncan Green's polling habit - Make your choice in the side-bar! 

---

Update: The final results:

Costas
  0 (0%)
Jere
  1 (5%)
 
Karthik
  8 (40%)
 
Lant
  4 (20%)
 
Orazio
  1 (5%)
 
Paul
  3 (15%)
 
Pedro
  0 (0%)
Richard
  2 (10%)
 
These are all rubbish, something totally different
  1 (5%)
 

Measuring learning

Here’s the key slide from Karthik Muralidharan’s presentation at Young Lives that I mentioned yesterday (full ppt here).
I was actually looking for a chart like this a couple of months ago for a policy brief we were working on about education and labour markets. I’m not sure my colleagues really believed me that this kind of chart just did not exist, and weren’t really happy with the alternative proxies, so I was quite relieved to hear that this really is amongst the first of its’ kind. But also kind of depressed that work this important hasn’t happened yet on a wider scale.

In India, the average child just about reaches grade 1 standard in maths by the time they reach grade 4. For the bottom 10%, they are learning absolutely nothing from grade 2 onwards. 


08 July 2013

Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!



Matt has a post up on the clear highlight of the first day of Young Lives 2013 - the final plenary by Lant "Dude is so famous he doesn’t even bother wearing a name tag" Pritchett.
Pritchett’s point was fairly simple: in many settings school can be a pretty awful place to be, especially if the curriculum is moving faster than you can keep up with it. Eventually, all but a select few are left behind, leading to a “flattening out” of the learning curve. At this point, you can’t really learn anything when you are this far behind, so why stick around? At one point – and without warning – Pritchett presented an entire slide in Spanish, to give the audience a sense of how this must feel.
The bottom line is really quite depressing - there are thousands and thousands of kids out there sitting in classrooms learning absolutely nothing.

The other highlight for me was Karthik Muralidharan's plenary - apparently one of the first papers to measure and illustrate the learning progress (or lack of) of individual children as they progress through school years - on a comparable ordinal scale. The approach is smart, borrowing from the "Item Response Theory" used in GRE tests, and allows you to estimate for example whether grade 5 students can answer grade 1 questions without having to ask them. The key policy take-away was that clearly we need more of this kind of testing being done with the same kids on an annual basis. At present, we have a few snapshot surveys of learning outcomes in random years in random countries, and almost nothing in most countries that can reliably tell you something meaningful about the progress that children are making. Part of this will hopefully be solved in a few years as countries sign up to a new post-2015 development goal on learning outcomes and then realise that they have committed to figuring out a way of actually measuring them. This stuff is important. As Karthik noted, all of the RCT randomista experimental literature looks at how much an intervention impoves treatment schools compared with control schools, but misses the larger point that nobody has a clue how much progress the control schools are making over time if any (as you might expect given general economic growth).

Naureen Karachiwalla and Abhijeet Singh both presented really interesting papers, documenting in detail the role of caste in determining learning outcomes in Pakistan, and differences between public and private schools in India, respectively (bottom line: they perform similarly, but private school teachers cost around a fifth of public school teachers so private schools are a lot cheaper to run).

The nonparametric bayesian econometrics (I think that's what it is...) was maybe a bit much for me first thing this morning, but the point to note for survey designers emphasised by Costas Meghir was that the cutting edge Heckman "latent factor" model tools for estimating human capital, cognitive and noncognitive skills, or whatever you want to call it, are data hungry. You need a few (at least 3) different measures of each concept that you are trying to proxy for.

That's all for now, time to sleep. 

Young Lives 2013 (pre-match analysis)

Good morning from Oxford. As you'll already know from reading AidThoughts, the inaugural Young Lives Conference is happening today and tomorrow, and Matt and I will be furiously blogging (like this guy) and tweeting all the good bits at #younglives. You can see the programme and papers here.

First a bit of background: Young Lives is a project at Oxford University which is following thousands of children from Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam, talking to them and their households every 3 years for 15 years as they grow up, with quantitative and qualitative components. RCTs aside, this kind of longitudinal survey is pretty rare in developing countries to begin with, but in addition to all the standard demographic and socio-economic information, this survey also measures malnutrition, learning outcomes (language and maths), and asks the children directly about their experiences, hopes, and aspirations. (I just tried to see if I could download the actual questionnaire to see what the wording of the questions was, but apparently you need to be part of an academic institution to use the UK data archive where they are kept, which is a bit annoying).

The conference seems to be all economists, which I'm obviously not really going to complain about but it might have been interesting to see some of the fruits of the qualitative work. There are some really big names in the economics of education; Paul Glewwe, Lant Pritchett, Karthik Muralidharan, Jere Behrman, Stefan Dercon, and also some guy called Abhijeet Singh.

Now a bit of a quibble: the conference is organised around the theme of inequalities in children's outcomes. I remain unconvinced about the whole inequality narrative which is being pushed at the moment. You don't have to agree with Mankiw (I don't) to recognise that talking about inequality turns off a lot of people on the right. I still think the last UK Labour government made a great tactical move by tackling inequality and doing redistribution by defining child poverty by a measure of inequality. You can argue with caring about inequality, it's much harder to argue with caring about child poverty. But the focus here is not income inequality but inequality in outcomes. But in a sense isn't it still true that "we are all poor here?" Should we focus on the differences in health outcomes between the children who are only a bit malnourished and the ones who are totally stunted for life, or just despairing about how badly off they all are?

Finally, on my last count there were close to 60 papers being presented here, so we're going to struggle to even scrape the surface here, so do take a look yourself. I think the plan is also to stream the plenaries online. And just as a warning, if Matt is off his best blogging game today, you should cut him some slack, it might have something to do with all the rigorous qualitative research he was doing yesterday into the positive impact of post-war caribbean migration on contemporary British culture (the Cowley Road carnival in the baking heat yesterday might have been the best thing that has happened in Oxford in 1000 years, well worth missing Wimbledon for. So no pressure Young Lives but this conference better be good).