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

Understanding Capitalism

Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen argues, in an article published on The New York Review of Books, that the way out from the crisis passes through a better understanding of the ideas that contributed to build the actual economic system. Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, Arthur Cecil Pigou, should be read, not just quoted. And I quote

Smith viewed markets and capital as doing good work within their own sphere, but first, they required support from other institutions—including public services such as schools—and values other than pure profit seeking, and second, they needed restraint and correction by still other institutions—e.g., well-devised financial regulations and state assistance to the poor—for preventing instability, inequity, and injustice. If we were to look for a new approach to the organization of economic activity that included a pragmatic choice of a variety of public services and well-considered regulations, we would be following rather than departing from the agenda of reform that Smith outlined as he both defended and criticized capitalism.

We must understand how institutions work and make them work better. But not just aiming at economic growth.

There is a critical need for paying special attention to the underdogs of society in planning a response to the current crisis, and in going beyond measures to produce general economic expansion.

A crisis not only presents an immediate challenge that has to be faced. It also provides an opportunity to address long-term problems when people are willing to reconsider established conventions. This is why the present crisis also makes it important to face the neglected long-term issues like conservation of the environment and national health care, as well as the need for public transport (…).

Sunday, 22 March 2009

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RSS r-bloggers.com

  • COVID-19 shiny / plotly dashboard
    Governments and COVID-19: Which one stops it faster, better, has fewer people dying? These questions get answered with my dashboard. A contribution to the shiny-contest: https://community.rstudio.com/t/material-design-corona-covid-19-dashboard-2020-shiny-contest-submission/59690 Intro How did Corona spread? Using the animation feature of R-shiny this can be easily tracked.COVID-19 is the major topic in all news channels. The place I live in […]
  • RcppSimdJson 0.0.4: Even Faster Upstream!
    A new (upstream) simdjson release was announced by Daniel Lemire earlier this week, and my Twitter mentions have been running red-hot ever since as he was kind enough to tag me. Do look at that blog post, there is some impressive work in there. We wr...
  • C is for coalesce
    For the letter C, we'll talk about the coalesce function. If you're familiar with SQL, you may have seen this function before. It combines two or more variables into a single column, and is a way to deal with missing data. When you give it a list of va...
  • Introductory videos for Explanatory Model Analysis with R
    Remote teaching at my university encouraged me to prepare some video materials for Explanatory Model Analysis techniques, i.e. techniques of exploration, explanation and visualisation of predictive models.The pyramid for Explanatory Model Analysis. Lef...
  • Custom Power BI visual for Line chart with two Y-Axis
    Power BI support certain type of visuals that are by default available in the document. These are absolutely great and work perfectly fine, have a lot of capabilities to set properties and change the settings. But every so often in…Read more ›

RSS Simply Statistics

  • Is Artificial Intelligence Revolutionizing Environmental Health?
    NOTE: This post was written by Kevin Elliott, Michigan State University; Nicole Kleinstreuer, National Institutes of Health; Patrick McMullen, ScitoVation; Gary Miller, Columbia University; Bhramar Mukherjee, University of Michigan; Roger D. Peng, Johns Hopkins University; Melissa Perry, The George Washington University; Reza Rasoulpour, Corteva Agriscience, and Elizabeth Boyle, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. […]
  • You can replicate almost any plot with R
    Although R is great for quickly turning data into plots, it is not widely used for making publication ready figures. But, with enough tinkering you can make almost any plot in R. For examples check out the flowingdata blog or the Fundamentals of Data Visualization book. Here I show five charts from the lay press […]
  • So You Want to Start a Podcast
    Podcasting has gotten quite a bit easier over the past 10 years, due in part to improvements to hardware and software. I wrote about both how I edit and record both of my podcasts about 2 years ago and, while not much has changed since then, I thought it might be helpful if I organized […]

RSS Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

  • Noise-mining as standard practice in social science
    The following example is interesting, not because it is particularly noteworthy but rather because it represents business as usual in much of social science: researchers trying their best, but hopelessly foiled by their use of crude psychological theories and cruder statistics, along with patterns of publication and publicity that motivate the selection and interpretation of […]
  • Conference on Mister P online tomorrow and Saturday, 3-4 Apr 2020
    We have a conference on multilevel regression and poststratification (MRP) this Friday and Saturday, organized by Lauren Kennedy, Yajuan Si, and me. The conference was originally scheduled to be at Columbia but now it is online. Here is the information. If you want to join the conference, you must register for it ahead of time; […]
  • More coronavirus research: Using Stan to fit differential equation models in epidemiology
    Seth Flaxman and others at Imperial College London are using Stan to model coronavirus progression; see here (and I’ve heard they plan to fix the horrible graphs!) and this Github page. They also pointed us to this article from December 2019, Contemporary statistical inference for infectious disease models using Stan, by Anastasia Chatzilena et al. […]