Future Development Reads: The war on baby girls winds down, using geo-spatial data for economic analysis, and why economists are like plumbers

Here are Future Development’s top reads of the week, which features the welcome and surprising turnaround in the “missing baby girls” in Asia, covers new research on using geo-spatial data for economic analysis, and follows up on Ester Duflo’s Economist like plumbers analogy. 

  • War on baby girls winds down. The World Bank’s World Development Report on gender presented the first robust estimates on Asia’s missing baby girls in 2011. According to The Economist, the war on baby girls seems to be winding down, not least because it has become a major economic challenge in surplus countries for young male adults to attract a partner. In South Korea, the trend may have been completely reversed with an emerging daughter craziness.
  • Monitoring income and forests from space. Even though most economists assume a relationship between economic development and the over-exploitation of natural resources, it has proven difficult to establish this empirically. Jesus Crespo Cuaresma et al. presented some of the strongest evidence to date for the existence of an “environmental Kuznets” curve for deforestation in combining geo-spatial data with economic data sets.
  • Economists = plumbers. Finally, here is a reflection by Esther Duflo on why economists should act like plumbers. Tim Hartford (The Undercover Economist) argues that once a system is in place, “both plumbers and economists must tinker with it as leaks and blockages become apparent.” Similarly to weather forecasting, economists should be brave in presenting their often imperfect work to allow for improvements over time.