Resistance is futile

The most recent issue of the NBER Digest has a non-technical summary of an interesting paper published in 2015.  Here’s the reference and a link to the full text of the piece:

Blau, Francine, “Immigrants and gender roles: assimilation vs. culture,” IZA Journal of Migration 4.1 (2015): 1-21.

Blau investigates the degree of assimilation in the US by focusing on the fertility and labor supply choices of female immigrants who come from countries with high fertility and low participation rates.  She finds that assimilation does happen, albeit relatively slowly.  Here’s a graph showing the rate of assimilation when it comes to female labor supply:


Interestingly, Blau also finds that assimilation rates may increase in the future.  Specifically, “immigrant source countries may become more similar to the United States, thus reducing the effect of source country gender roles on the behavior of first- and second-generation immigrant women. This has already begun to happen with respect to fertility. The fertility of immigrant women relative to natives has been falling rapidly in the most recent immigrant cohorts.”





Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to…wear?

Ah Malaysia, where it is now illegal to wear a tee shirt that says “Clean” on it.

Not making this up.

Why? Well prime minister Najib is pretty much the opposite of clean and doesn’t appreciate people pointing it out. And since Malaysia has not ever been a country of laws (cf Mahathir’s relentless abuse of Anwar Ibrahim), the courts are allowing the tee shirt ban.

This is the same prime minister who fired the attorney general investigating his unclean-ness and appointed another who insta-cleared him of any wrongdoing. Najib cribbed this move from Mexico’s own empty suit president EPN.

The best part of the whole linked article though is the following:

A Malaysian government spokesman declined to comment on the case but insisted that citizens were free to speak their minds.

“The reality in Malaysia is that there is freedom of expression without fear of prosecution,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Online and in print, the media is freer than it has ever been.”

LOL for “on the condition of anonymity”.

Malaysian politics: forever uncleeeeaaan!!

External validity, Indian edition

We recently blogged how India faces some unique challenges to increasing teacher attendance; namely, leopard incursions.  Obviously we were (mostly) joking, but India is making news again in a way that seems decidedly unique to it.

While there is a big literature about the pros and cons of affirmative action, I don’t think many researchers (outside of India that is) have considered the events that the NY Times chronicled yesterday.

Here’s some background:

“Almost half of government jobs and university seats in the country are reserved for members of special groups. India’s Constitution guarantees equality to all, but it also enshrines caste-based affirmative action for the lowest social group, the Dalits, known in legal terms as scheduled castes, and for indigenous forest-dwellers, known as scheduled tribes. In time, the government created a third group, the Other Backward Classes.”

This has enraged other castes that now want to also be considered low-level so they can access these government jobs.

A slippery slope

The problem with giving in once means you don’t have a leg to stand on the next time it happens.  The government must have realized this last year when they denied a “relatively prosperous caste” its demand to be part of the “backward classes.”

Unfortunately, that just caused members of the Jat caste to up the ante. According to the Times, the “protesters had blocked roads around the capital, set fire to railway stations and cars, and temporarily shut down a crucial canal that is a major source of the city’s water. Nineteen people were killed in the violence in surrounding Haryana State, and fears of water shortages led New Delhi to close its schools to conserve its supply.”   

My only question is:  which caste is next?  and what happens if most of the castes are eventually deemed “backward”?  this seems like another way to push the Dalits back down to the bottom again.


What Mugabe’s birthday is not like..

What is Mugabe’s birthday you ask?


Zimbabwe’s state-run (ha! what a surprise) newspaper has put out a 16-page cringe worthy paean to the country’s dictator.*  The photo above comes from an article detailing “massive” and lavish celebrations for Mugabe’s 92nd birthday.  This during a time where there is a terrible drought, forcing 3 million people to rely on food aid “mainly supplied by the United States and the European Union.”

In a post last month, we discussed the unbelievable fact that some international creditors seemed to be reconsidering their stance against debt relief for Zimbabwe.  I hope they are reconsidering their reconsideration.

*I like to imagine workers at the newspaper are as clear-eyed and cynical as any Zimbabwean and crack each other up trying to outdo themselves with these paeans. .. How much is too much?  Did we go to far?  No worries, in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, there is no “too far” when it comes to boot licking?

“Streams of teachers could be seen sprinting across town”

In a recent blog post, I discussed the fact that there is widespread truancy amongst teachers and health workers in India.  Today I read a fantastic piece in the NY Times called “Fighting Truancy Among India’s Teachers, With a Pistol and a Stick.”

Briefly, it about a guy who decided to take matters in his own hands and do something about India’s terrible truancy problem.  Manoj Mishra, an education officer in Uttar Pradesh, has raised teacher attendance to 90%, a far cry from what it was before.  He has also become a local hero to everyone but the teachers themselves.

I imagine Mishra’s techniques are not ones that would be recommended by any NGOs but they do show that one person can make a difference.  Here are some great parts of the story:

a. What he found when first coming to the posting in Deoria:

“Mr. Mishra said he soon discovered that some of the missing teachers lived nowhere near their schools. One lived in the New Delhi suburb of Noida, a two-hour flight from the Deoria area; another in India’s financial capital, Mumbai, more than a thousand miles away. Another had not been seen in school for six years. He says many of them worked other jobs and had bribed his officers into reporting them present.”

b.  Mr. Mishra has some unusual methods of disciplining teachers and protecting himself:

“He [Mishra] had been reprimanded for beating up three teachers with a stick because he believed they had landed their jobs using fraudulent documents.”

“Teachers have threatened to shoot Mr. Mishra, roughed him up, turned his desk upside down and loudly denounced him in protests outside his office. Their allies, including ministers and legislators, have made phone calls and visits, demanding he ease up. Mr. Mishra has responded by packing a loaded pistol in his right front pocket, hiring private security guards and putting cameras in his office.”

c.  Creativity & results:

“Emboldened, Mr. Mishra began leading raids on the schools each month. He set up a toll-free number to report truant teachers, and painted it on every school wall. Locals watched gleefully on the days the schools were inspected, when streams of teachers could be seen sprinting across town trying to reach their classrooms before Mr. Mishra and his officers could get there.”

d. Caveat (or, you can lead a teacher to the school, but you can’t make them teach…)

“Mr. Mishra says making teachers go to school is only one small step forward: ‘Whether they teach or don’t teach, I can’t tell,” he said. “But now, at least, they come to school.’”


“Misusing” your rights to social media: Ugandan edition

National elections are going on in Uganda today and I thought it a good excuse to take a break from the endless presidential campaigning in the US.

Here is long-time President/dictator Museveni campaigning in his signature color:

Screenshot 2016-02-18 07.48.53

even though there seems little chance that he could lose the election, a president for life like Museveni takes no chances!  He has blacked out social media today because some Ugandans were “‘misusing’ their rights.”  I guess their rights to social media are determined by the state and anti-Museveni rhetoric is not appreciated.

Here are some of my favorite campaign posters:


why is this guy kneeling and clapping?  or maybe he is praying? What he is trying to convey?


good to know that this woman will protect us in case of aliens attack. I wonder what her credentials are that would support this claim?


Hmm, this candidate looks suspiciously like Rihanna.

I’m curious whether any of these three get elected.  Will supporters of the Rihanna be disappointed when they meet the real candidate?

h/t to Kenyan Facts (@KResearcher) for photos of these great campaign posters



Que Cortazo! The true tragedy of Evo

Evo Morales, long the mini-me to Hugo’s Dr. Evil, has been getting push back about his plan to amend the constitution that he wrote after first taking office in 1998, to allow him to run for a 4th term. Apparently 20th century Evo had no inkling that his future self would be so power hungry!

The main “scandal” being reported is that a woman who had a child with him is an executive at a company that has benefitted from large government contracts.  If Suharto were still around, he could remind us that this is just “family values”, but in his absence, the complaint is gaining some traction.

However to me the real scandal is that Evo had to speak out about rumors that he was paying $200 a pop for his haircuts.

Let’s pause to take a look:



So it’s truly tragic that either (a) anyone thinks that cut could cost $200, or (b) that some crazy scammer is ripping off Bolivians by charging 2 bills for a bowl cut!

The horror.

Cultural Appropriation: Sub-continent style

Mumbai recently hosted a Hindu Spiritual Fair.  There was an advertisement promoting women’s honor.  Who do you think was the poster girl for such a program?  Margaret Thatcher, naturally.  We at CG have only one question:  wtf?


and Hindus can look to Einstein and Mark Twain for patriotic inspiration.  Yep, that makes a lot of sense.


h/t @PragyaTiwari

Sad Quinceañera

Ah Mexico, so feckless but with people that have awesome senses of humor. One of my favorite things about living there (once I got a handle on the language), was the constant flow of jokes, puns, double-entendres flying everywhere.

Recently, folks were “celebrating” the fact that the US dollar had hit 15 pesos by imagining a dollar Quinceañera (though it’s now over 19 pesos to the dollar).




Others, however wish Mexican authorities would forget about stopping El Chapo and concentrate on arresting the dollar instead!





Get Happy!

The NYT reports that the UAE is getting all Bhutan-y these days, creating a new ministry, the ministry of Happiness!  Even funnier, there’s also a new ministry of Tolerance. I can only assume the actual mission of these ministries is to stamp out any green shoots of happiness or tolerance that might possibly arise inside their borders.


Maybe their first act will be to execute the guy with the red keffiyeh!

In all seriousness, the ministry of happiness will have its work cut out for it as the UAE is already reported to be the 20th most happy country in the world!! They just need to climb above #11 Israel to become the happiest country in the region.