From the Editor's Desk (February 2014)

28 January 2014

Tony Addison

As we near the end of the second month of 2014, I fear already that this year is going to go in a flash. Certainly 2013 whizzed by for UNU-WIDER with all the events, publications (including 144 working papers), and then the 2013 Global Go-To Think Tanks Report—which again placed us in the top ten. Here in Helsinki we have been getting our new research programme underway (on transformation, inclusion, and sustainability). We are also preparing for the New York launch of Falling Inequality in Latin America: Policy Changes and Lessons (Oxford University Press for UNU-WIDER, January 2014), edited by Giovanni Andrea Cornia, who led a large team of researchers in this UNU-WIDER project. The research findings and book were also discussed at ECLAC's regional annual seminar on fiscal policy, in Santiago, Chile in January.

In this Angle I discuss UNU-WIDER’s move to open access for as much of its research output as we can achieve. Thus our new UNU-WIDER special issue of the Review of Income and Wealth, on ‘Poverty, Development, and Behavioral Economics’, edited by Markus Jäntti, Ravi Kanbur, and Jukka Pirttilä, is completely open access. We have special issues of the Journal of Development Economics and World Development (to mention just two forthcoming special issues) coming out later this year as well.

The second Angle piece is by Rachel Gisselquist. Recently, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, came out with a piece claiming that academics are too much engaged with narrow issues, and that much of their work is irrelevant to the bigger questions (and, to drive the point home, Kristoff argues that researchers write in turgid prose as well). Rachel rises to Kristof’s challenge with a vibrant defense of political science, both its approach and its focus.

This month’s VideoAngle is an interview with Sam Jones, of the University of Copenhagen, and a regular in UNU-WIDER’s work programme. Sam is an authority on aid and its impact, and is closely engaged with the policy debate in Mozambique, having worked there for many years—and still travelling back and forth from his Copenhagen base.

Our ReCom – Research and Communication Foreign Aid programme website is getting a lot of hits. You might want to take a look again at the videos, including one by Amartya Sen on the importance of gender to development, from the ‘Aid for Gender Equality’ results meeting held in Copenhagen in December last year.

ResearchAngle this month has three summaries of ReCom working papers, specifically on aid in Africa: ‘The Impact of Foreign Aid on the Fiscal Behaviour of the Ugandan Government’ by Thomas Bwire, Oliver Morrissey, and Tim Lloyd; ‘Aid to Mozambique: A Trade-Off Between Governance and Democracy?’, by Carrie Manning and Monica Malbrough; and ‘Foreign Aid in Dangerous Places’ by Nicolas van de Walle.

Although it is only February, we already have close to 50 working papers online so far this year. Highlights include: Tony Atkinson on income inequality in the former British colonies; Justin Yifu Lin and Yan Wang on China–Africa co-operation in structural transformation; Maty Konte on gender differences in support for African democracy; Erik Thorbecke on inclusive growth in Africa; Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Alex Hurrell, and Stephen Devereux on targeting social transfer programmes; Lant Pritchett on risks to education systems from design mismatch; Serena Masino and Miguel Niño-Zarazúa on social service delivery and access to financial services in Mexico, and many more.

If you have not yet had the chance, then do take a look at the book 'Democratic Trajectories in Africa: Unravelling the Impact of Foreign Aid', edited by Danielle Resnick and Nicolas van de Walle, and published by Oxford University Press for UNU-WIDER towards the end of last year. The book is from the governance and fragility theme of ReCom, and you can still read Annett Victorero’s report on the project in Angle here. There is much more on the governance and fragility theme on the ReCom website, and some journal special issues from this ReCom theme are in preparation.

If you are in the northern hemisphere then you will be looking towards the spring—the snow has mostly gone in Helsinki after a very mild winter. If you are in the southern hemisphere, do continue to enjoy your fine weather. Angle is back in March with more information and views from UNU-WIDER and its team. 

Tony Addison is Chief Economist-Deputy Director, UNU-WIDER.

WIDERAngle newsletter
February 2014
ISSN 1238-9544