Bt Eggplant is Great

A very important result from Ahmed, Hoddinott, Abedin and Hossain in The American Journal of Agricultural Economics. Bt eggplant offers a 51% increase in yield, a 37.5% decrease in pesticide use, increased farmer profits and decreased farmer sickness. Wow. We implemented a cluster randomized controlled trial to assess the impact of genetically modified eggplant (Bt […]

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Erasmus Darwin, apostle of progress

Erasmus Darwin plunged into popular scientific poetry.  Cantering along in the style — if not with the elegance — of Alexander Pope, he never aspired to greatness.  His verses, however, were remarkable for their vivid pictures of evolution interlaced with stirring accounts of the advancement of science, technology, and human culture during the late eighteenth […]

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Post-Covid, is the U.S. falling behind China?

I don’t think so, as I argue in my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit: If you are wondering whether China or the U.S. with its allies is more likely to make a big breakthrough, in, say, quantum computing, ask yourself a simple question: Which network will better attract talented immigrants? The more that talent […]

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Economics and epidemiology, revisited

The Economist was kind enough to reference my earlier blog post on this topic, from April 12, so I thought we should look at it again.  Please do reread it!  Here are my first two points: 1. They [epidemiologists] do not sufficiently grasp that long-run elasticities of adjustment are more powerful than short-run elasticites.  In […]

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Is AI centralizing research influence?

Increasingly, modern Artificial Intelligence (AI) research has become more computationally intensive. However, a growing concern is that due to unequal access to computing power, only certain firms and elite universities have advantages in modern AI research. Using a novel dataset of 171394 papers from 57 prestigious computer science conferences, we document that firms, in particular, […]

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How do the NIH and NSF work?

A surprising number of individuals responded to my post last week soliciting books about the NIH and NSF.  Thank you to those who did and please do still feel free to reach out on this matter. It became apparent that a highly complementary effort would be a Substack/blog/podcast/similar about the inner workings of the NIH […]

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Emergent Ventures winners, eleventh cohort

Andrew Dembe of Uganda, working on the “last mile” problem for health care delivery. Adam Pahlavan and Anne Lee, formerly of Stanford, to pursue opportunities in on-line education, including for their Summer Stem Institute, and also for general career development. Maxwell Dostart-Meers of Harvard, to study Singapore and state capacity, as a Progress Studies fellow. […]

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Toward a universal medical test?

UC San Francisco scientists have developed a single clinical laboratory test capable of zeroing in on the microbial miscreant afflicting a patient in as little as six hours – irrespective of what body fluid is sampled, the type or species of infectious agent, or whether physicians start out with any clue as to what the […]

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Is research productivity declining in China and Germany?

In a recent paper, Bloom et al. (2020) find evidence for a substantial decline in research productivity in the U.S. economy during the last 40 years. In this paper, we replicate their findings for China and Germany, using detailed firm-level data spanning three decades. Our results indicate that diminishing returns in idea production are a global […]

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Optimizing the tie-breaker regression discontinuity design

Also known as “how to approve a vaccine and still continue with stage III trials.”  From Art B. Owen and Hal Varian: Motivated by customer loyalty plans and scholarship programs, we study tie-breaker designs which are hybrids of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and regression discontinuity designs (RDDs). We quantify the statistical efficiency of a tie-breaker […]

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