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Stuff White People Like on Development

21 Nov

Lessons from The Development Olympics

10 Aug

UPDATE noon 8/11/12: A devastating rebuttal to this post notes that if you limit the medal count to gold and change the indicator to the Human Development Index, there is no correlation. I have no idea what the point of this is.

Researchers devote vast effort to the central question in economic development: “what determines Olympic medals?” The answer is income per capita and population, or in other words total GDP. The following table shows this story fits pretty well.

However, the outliers are interesting.

The big underachievers are (in order of underachievement) India, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia.

The big overachievers are Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan,  Romania, Iran, , and Jamaica.

The lessons seem to be:

(1) World Bank national development strategies in key emerging markets have failed miserably in the Olympics sector.

(2) a history of Communism may not have been so awesome for development and liberty, but it’s still amazing for Olympic medals.

(3) Islamist ideology is a mixed medal producer (Saudi Arabia no, Iran yes).

(4) if nothing else works, just run really fast.

The AIDS conference political courage meter

24 Jul

The international AIDS conference in Washington has generated a lot of news on how to end the tragic AIDS epidemic.

Some approaches to AIDS involve technical fixes (vaccines, treatment drugs, condoms, circumcision) on which it is easy to get political consensus.

Others require real political courage to address, such as behavior change, i.e. reducing the number of multiple sexual partners –“concurrent relationships”– that spread the epidemic.

The chart below collects all Google News hits on these terms and shows the weight of each of them in news coverage on the AIDS Conference.