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

  • Working with Notion API from R
    When searching for a solution where I could store some flat files as a database, Notion came up. The nice thing about it is that it offers an API to most of its functionality. At the time of this writing this is still in beta, but hopefully it will bec... The post Working with Notion […]
  • rbind in r-Combine Vectors, Matrix or Data Frames by Rows
    rbind in r, In this article, will describe the uses and applications of rbind(), rbind.fill() and bind_rows() functions in R programming. rbind() in R... The post rbind in r-Combine Vectors, Matrix or Data Frames by Rows appeared first on finnstats. The post rbind in r-Combine Vectors, Matrix or Data Frames by Rows first appeared on […]
  • Which Religious Groups Have the Most Sex?
    There has been plenty of discussion about declining fertility rates and patterns of marriage among people in the United States following the news that the US birth rate declined to its lowest since the Great Depression. There are a lot of debates a... The post Which Religious Groups Have the Most Sex? first appeared on […]
  • Class imbalance and classification metrics with aircraft wildlife strikes
    This is the latest in my series of screencasts demonstrating how to use the tidymodels packages, from just starting out to tuning more complex models with many hyperparameters. I recently participated in SLICED, a competitive data science prediction... The post Class imbalance and classification metrics with aircraft wildlife strikes first appeared on R-bloggers.
  • rOpenSci News Digest, June 2021
    Dear rOpenSci friends, it’s time for our monthly news roundup! You can read this post on our blog. Now let’s dive into the activity at and around rOpenSci! 🔗 rOpenSci HQ 🔗 R-universe Video and resources from our pas... The post rOpenSci News Digest, June 2021 first appeared on R-bloggers.

RSS Simply Statistics

  • Streamline - tidy data as a service
    Tldr: We started a company called Streamline Data Science https://streamlinedatascience.io/ 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

  • Pittsburgh by Frank Santoro
    Last year we discussed a silly study, and that lead us to this interesting blog by Chris Gavaler, which pointed me to a recent picture storybook, Pittsburgh, by Frank Santoro. The book was excellent. I don’t have any insights to share here; I just wanted to thank Santoro for writing the book and Gavaler for […]
  • Meta-meta-science studies
    August Wartin asks: Are you are familiar with any (economic) literature that attempts to model academia or the labor market for researchers (or similar), incorporating stuff like e.g. publication bias, researcher degrees of freedom, the garden of forking paths etcetera (and that perhaps also discusses possible proposals/mechanisms to mitigate these problems)? And perhaps you might […]
  • She’s thinking of buying a house, but it has a high radon measurement. What should she do?
    Someone wrote in with a question: My Mom, who has health issues, is about to close on a new house in **, NJ. We just saw that ** generally is listed as an area with high radon. If the house has a radon measurement over 4 and the seller puts vents to bring it into […]