This year, I ended up attending – almost exclusively – sessions on ‘Institutions’ and ‘Households and Social Networks’. So, if you are looking for a more comprehensive summary check the Development Impact Blog. The full programme and links to papers and videos is available here.

My top 3 papers/presentations this year:

  • Gendered Language by Pamela Jakiela and Owen Ozier. I greatly appreciate Pamela’s style and clarity in presenting her work. For their paper they put together new data on the grammatical gender structure of 3,930 languages classifying more than 90 percent of the population in more than three countries. Their cross-country evidence suggests that gender languages appear to reduce women’s labour force participation and perpetuate support for unequal treatment of women and men in society.

  • Women Empowerment and Domestic Abuse: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Vietnam by Erwin Bulte and Robert Lensink. Following a gender and business training intervention they show that women who participated in the training suffer more frequent abuse than women in the control group. Based on their theory this is driven by the increase in female income. One novelty of their work is that in addition to survey based questions, they also elicit the incidence of inter-partner violence using a list experiment and alert to the difference in results obtained using the different elicitation methods.

  • Insurance Networks and Poverty Taps by Arun Advani. This paper links to an older paper of mine, which tried to explain why reinvestment rates of micro-entrepreneurs are low. Arun asks a related question which is: Why do households in constraint settings manage to borrow (informally) for consumption smoothing but fail to do so for investment in potentially high return activities? His explanation is based on the reciprocity accompanied with informal borrowing and lending for consumption smoothing which leads to a trade-off between insurance and investment. This trade-off can in consequence lead to a network-level poverty trap. Using data from an RCT in Bangladesh, Arun shows that households are indeed in such a trap.

Also worth watching (particularly if you are a dev student looking for a job), this year’s keynote by Rachel Glennester (DIFD Chief Economist).

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