Not long ago, or Little by little (3): scarcity and subsistence in rural Suffolk

[For those who came in late… Start with Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening… A village in Suffolk [in the east of England], circa 1900: There were seven children at home and father’s wages had been reduced to 10…

Not long ago, or Little by little (2): Indoor plumbing

[Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening, little by little: It’s the Chinese city of Kunming in 1980: Li Kunwa and Phillipe Ôtié’s A Chinese Life is an amazing memoir – a lens into sixty years of struggle and upheaval…

Not long ago, or Little by little (1)

Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening, little by little: It’s London in 1930. Ethel has left her work as a lady’s maid; Ernest is a milkman. Raymond Briggs’ Ethel and Ernest is a brilliant book – very funny, very poignant. I share it here as an example…

Max Roser: defining global development

This is a really interesting interview with Max Roser, founder and editor of Our World in Data. Recommend. The idea of development is to make progress against problems. If we go back into our history, humanity has always battled the same problems: kids died early, people remained hungry for much of the year, lived in poor conditions, and lived in…

Astonishing wealth inequality graphic

Inequality isn’t my favourite hobby horse, mainly because: “Fair” and “equal [being / having the same]” are often (wrongly) assumed to be the same thing; “Equal [being / having the same]” and “[of] equal [worth]” also seem to get conflated; I don’t think that “equality [being / having the same]” for all people is possible or desirable, assuming that we’re…

A slice of the pie

Jane has one pie. John has none. Should Jane give John a slice? The situation is unequal, but we need some context – including some history – to be able to decide if it’s unfair. Your feelings might change if… Jane and John were each given a pie by a friend, but John has just finished eating his. Jane bought…

By invitation and by necessity

I think I should give the reason for my being in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the argument of “outsiders coming in.” … I am here, along with several members of my staff, because we were invited here. I am here because I have basic organizational ties here. Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here…

Clare Leaver and Lant Pritchett on Pay for Performance for teachers (and how to think about interventions in general)

Even if you’re not interested in pay for performance, this article is is fantastic in the way that it sets a clear foundation for discussion of an emotive topic by pointing out the often-overlooked but obvious common ground shared by readers on all sides of the debate: Here is the essence of our argument. High-performing education systems already use some…

Lant Pritchett on reducing learning poverty: targeted interventions vs systemic change

“… when the whole system is producing weak results for nearly every child, then “inclusion” is a false premise. In this situation, it is necessary to fix the whole system and increase performance across the board in order to reduce the number of children stranded in low performance. Lant Pritchett – Tackling Education poverty with system-wide improvements Lant Pritchett is…

Raj Chetty on return on investment for social programs

Raj Chetty: This was an impressive study conducted by my colleagues Nathan Hendren and Ben Sprung-Keyser at Harvard… and the main punchline that they arrived at… is, programs that invest in kids – that is, programs targeted at developing human capital, at education, at improving development – tend to have very high rates of return, in fact sometimes infinite rates…