Information Flows on Mobiles

The idea to use mobile phones (here and here) to help economic development in the most remote corners of the world is fascinating and definitely smart. For one thing, mobile phones have already reached the Bottom Billion. In 2007 there were 45 subscribers per 100 inhabitants in the developing countries. That means that we can now expect to have one mobile in every family. Everywhere. As well in communities where services like water, electricity, hospitals, schools or transportation are still far away.

What poor people mostly need are functioning institutions. And market is one of these. If market is not working, farmers will pay higher prices for what they buy and got less money for what they sell.  Moreover they could buy or sell at the wrong time and possibly in the wrong place. In the words of the government of Rwanda,

the success of these farmers has been greatly affected by lack of access to pricing information. Many times, farmers speculate what crops to grow and what prices to charge at harvest. Some farmers depend on middlemen to dictate the prices and in most cases the latter exploit the former. For any farmer to earn a decent living from agriculture, easy access to information on market prices is of paramount importance.

Making information flows on mobile phones could

empower farmers to enable them make more informed market pricing decisions and ultimately more successful farming.

The idea of mobile banking goes in the same direction: making a  service so critical for development accessible to almost everyone. That will not end poverty, but  will probably make the task easier.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Brain matters

Saying that education strengths economic growth sounds good old common sense. But proving and measuring this relation is not immediate and therefore interesting. A reasearch, published last year, does it. Eric Hanushek, Dean T. Jamison, Eliot A. Jamison and Ludger Woessmann estimate that

each additional year of average schooling in a country increased the average 40-year growth rate in GDP by about 0.37 percentage points. That may not seem like much, but consider the fact that since World War II, the world economic growth rate has been around 2 to 3 percent of GDP annually. Lifting it by 0.37 percentage points is a boost to annual growth rates of more than 10 percent of what would otherwise have occurred, a significant amount.

Nonetheless, the research suggests that what really matters for economic growth is the quality of education. In other words it is not enough to send children to school: you have to teach them something. Using test-score performances around the world to measure the cognitive skills of students appears

that countries with higher test scores experienced far higher growth rates. If one country’s test-score performance was 0.5 standard deviations higher than another country during the 1960s (…) the first country’s growth rate was, on average, one full percentage point higher annually over the following 40-year period than the second country’s growth rate. Further, once the impact of higher levels of cognitive skills are taken into account, the significance for economic growth of school attainment, i.e., additional years of schooling, dwindles to nothing. A country benefits from asking its students to remain in school for a longer period of time only if the students are learning something as a consequence.

These results are extremely important especially for the countries of the Bottom Billion. What they are saying is that it is better to invest on the quality of the education (where rate of return is much higher) rather than spending to keep students in schools longer.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


Twitter: frbailo




  • Current approaches to Species Distribution Modelling in R
    Current approaches to Species Distribution Modelling in R My course notes for “Current approaches to Species Distribution Modelling in R “ for World Fisheries Congress 2021 are now free online. The course covers tidyverse and sf workflows for models,... Continue reading: Current approaches to Species Distribution Modelling in R
  • Why and How to Model Conditional Variance, with an Application to my Letterboxd Data
    One of the main assumptions of linear regression taught in statistics courses is that of “constant variance” or “homoscedasticity.” Having data that do not have constant variance (i.e., are heteroscedastic) is then often treated as a problem—a nuisance that violates our assumptions and, among other things, produces inaccurate ... Continue reading: Why and How to […]
  • Gold-Mining Week 3 (2021)
    Week 3 Gold Mining and Fantasy Football Projection Roundup now available. The post Gold-Mining Week 3 (2021) appeared first on Fantasy Football Analytics. Continue reading: Gold-Mining Week 3 (2021)
  • EARL online 2021: highlights
    Thank you to everyone who joined us for EARL 2021 – especially to all of the fantastic presenters! We were... The post EARL online 2021: highlights appeared first on Mango Solutions. Continue reading: EARL online 2021: highlights
  • GooglyPlusPlus2021: Restarting IPL 2021 as-it-happens!!!
    The IPL 2021 extravaganza has restarted again, now in Dubai, and it was time for me to crank up good ol’ GooglyPlusPlus2021. As in my earlier post, GooglyPlus2021 with IPL 2021 as it happens, during the initial set of IPL 2021 games,, a command script will execute automatically every day, download the latest ... Continue […]

RSS Simply Statistics

  • Streamline - tidy data as a service
    Tldr: We started a company called Streamline Data Science that offers tidy data as a service. We are looking for customers, partnerships and employees as we scale up after closing our funding round! Most of my career, I have worked in the muck of data cleaning. In the world of genomics, a lot of […]
  • The Four Jobs of the Data Scientist
    In 2019 I wrote a post about The Tentpoles of Data Science that tried to distill the key skills of the data scientist. In the post I wrote: When I ask myself the question “What is data science?” I tend to think of the following five components. Data science is (1) the application of design […]
  • Palantir Shows Its Cards
    File this under long-term followup, but just about four years ago I wrote about Palantir, the previously secretive but now soon to be public data science company, and how its valuation was a commentary on the value of data science more generally. Well, just recently Palantir filed to go public and therefore submitted a registration […]

RSS Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

  • More on that claim that scientific citations are worth $100,000 each
    Earlier today we discussed a stunning claim by scholar and Ted talk performer Albert-Laszlo Barabasi: It’s possible to put actual monetary value on each citation a paper receives. We can, in other words calculate exactly how much a single citation is worth. . . . in the United States each citation is worth a whopping […]
  • Albert-Laszlo Barabasi is underpaid. By a lot!
    David Sholl writes: I thought your readers might be interested in this excerpt from the relatively new book in the Malcolm Gladwell tradition by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success: It’s possible to put actual monetary value on each citation a paper receives. We can, in other words calculate exactly how much […]
  • f2f is better
    Today I had my first full in-person work meeting in over a year. It was great!