Michael Kremer, Nobel laureate

To Alex’s excellent treatment I will add a short discussion of Kremer’s work on deworming (with co-authors, most of all Edward Miguel), here is one summary treatment:

Intestinal helminths—including hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, and schistosomiasis—infect more than one-quarter of the world’s population. Studies in which medical treatment is randomized at the individual level potentially doubly underestimate the benefits of treatment, missing externality benefits to the comparison group from reduced disease transmission, and therefore also underestimating benefits for the treatment group. We evaluate a Kenyan project in which school-based mass treatment with deworming drugs was randomly phased into schools, rather than to individuals, allowing estimation of overall program effects. The program reduced school absenteeism in treatment schools by one-quarter, and was far cheaper than alternative ways of boosting school participation. Deworming substantially improved health and school participation among untreated children in both treatment schools and neighboring schools, and these externalities are large enough to justify fully subsidizing treatment. Yet we do not find evidence that deworming improved academic test scores.

If you do not today have a worm, there is some chance you have Michael Kremer to thank!

With Blanchard, Kremer also has an excellent and these days somewhat neglected piece on central planning and complexity:

Under central planning, many firms relied on a single supplier for critical inputs. Transition has led to decentralized bargaining between suppliers and buyers. Under incomplete contracts or asymmetric information, bargaining may inefficiently break down, and if chains of production link many specialized producers, output will decline sharply. Mechanisms that mitigate these problems in the West, such as reputation, can only play a limited role in transition. The empirical evidence suggests that output has fallen farthest for the goods with the most complex production process, and that disorganization has been more important in the former Soviet Union than in Central Europe.

Kremer with co-authors also did excellent work on the benefits of school vouchers in Colombia.  And here is Kremer’s work on teacher incentives — incentives matter!  His early piece on wage inequality with Maskin, from 1996, was way ahead of its time.  And don’t forget his piece on peer effects and alcohol use: many college students think the others are drinking more than in fact they are, and publicizing the lower actual level of drinking can diminish alcohol abuse problems.  The Hajj has an impact on the views of its participants, and “… these results suggest that students become more empathetic with the social groups to which their roommates belong,.” link here.

And don’t forget his famous paper titled “Elephants.”  Under some assumptions, the government should buy up a large stock of ivory tusks, and dump them on the market strategically, to ruin the returns of elephant speculators at just the right time.  No one has ever worked through the issue before of how to stop speculation in such forbidden and undesirable commodities.

Michael Kremer has produced a truly amazing set of papers.


'If you do not today have a worm, there is some chance you have Michael Kremer to thank!'

This is an intentional joke, right? Because in the U.S., one of the towering figures of the sort of big business that some write love letters to was responsible for providing the funding that allowed a state like Virginia to have such things as hookworm consigned to history - a century ago.

'The Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm Disease (RSC) was a campaign that operated from 1909 until 1915 to eradicate hookworm disease (ancyclostomiasis) in the American South. It operated in eleven states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The campaign was launched with a US$1 million donation by John D. Rockefeller "to bring about a cooperative movement of the medical profession, public health officials, boards of trade, churches, schools, the press, and other agencies for the cure and prevention of hookworm disease."' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockefeller_Sanitary_Commission

This entire comment chain is propaganda.

Fascists are murdering dissidents.

Well in the age of Trump, proudly displaying willful ignorance has been turned into an apparent virtue.

Maybe we could call up the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences and have them investigate Biden to see if he is part of this defaming of a Nobel(ish) prize.

Oops, it appear they are part of the usual suspects too - 'Each year, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry and the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, but also many other prizes in recognition of distinguished achievements' https://www.kva.se/en/priser

Before this one.

Msgkings, a lonely comments section turns its eyes to you.

Why the name change?

Cowen pushed these three last year. Not a bad prediction, just a year late.

"...the usual suspects telling us the economics Nobel isn't technically a Nobel. As if they know something we don't."

+1, Funny

Putin’s Rat laughs while our allies are slaughtered.

Kremer is deserving, but there is a strong case that his prize should have been delayed due to so much of his work being so close to that awarded last year. Clearly his closeness ans coauthoring with Banerjee and Duflo pushed that consideration aside.

A great American academic refuses to speak out against genocide. Professor, the Trump administration is abetting genocide. Will you not speak? You have been a paragon of truth.

Join us and speak out against genocide of the Kurds. Nothing else matters. Your words have weight.

I have posted on this on Econospeak. I am not in the habit of going "off-topic" on other peoples' blogs.

As I think you already know, Xyzzy, I have commented on this blog on the matter you want me to on another recent thread where I have debated with the worthless "Woah."

On Econospeak my comments on this appear in a post officially about "Closing the Open Skies," but my comments on the Turkish-Kurdish situation triggered a lot of debate there.

I, the original Xyzzy, have not commented on this page before this moment.

I thought that was a good article.

Lol. Debate?

You’re a laughably ill-informed local community college instructor with a semi famous name. Should I debate Donald Trump Junior next?

Jesus Christ you have delusions of grandeur.

That's not me. Trolls abound.

Barkley, I've given you official unclassified government sources. If you want to believe a fiction I have nothing against that, but our own intelligence agencies do not see any daylight between YPG and PKK. I linked the DNI, would you care to see it again?

General Thomas literally came up with the name SDF to reflag the PKK militia. I'm sure some of that is open source. It's not classified, that's for sure.

You should see the metadata link analysis on PKK and YPG. It's ......basically a tree.

You know this sir, it's not up for debate.

And I feel the need to be honest here. You're specifically tied to the House of Saud and oil money via Beirut among others. I ran you through the database and you did not even bother to contest the results.

You fit the profile. Enough said.


Oh, so there is more than one of you? Quite a few things said above are inaccurate, but aside from noting that the sources provided do not exactly agree with each other on the relationship between YPG and PKK, I am not going to comment on the rest of it.

Otherwise, I am waiting to see if either of you wants to accept that Turkey engaged in genocide against the Armenians in 1915. Or are you both mouthpieces for bad Turkish propaganda?

Oh, I shall add that the fact SDF was a name made up by an American is a big so what? After all, the YPG is only a part of the SDF. It also includes Arabs, including some Christians. SDF is not YPG and YPG is not PKK.

Over 99% of the "SDF" is the YPG. You either know this and are being willfully disingenuous or are ill-informed. There is no daylight between the PKK and YPG. Anyone knowledgeable in these matters would agree. A community college economics instructor's adamant opinions aside.

I've linked the DNI and the CRC Reports. That's enough. If you want to spread disinformation that's your business and not mine. You should join Fox News or Breitbart, they might have a place for you.

Apropos of nothing, you fit a profile. I'm not sure you realize how you are being used. A failed son of a famous father, linked to House of Saud money and its many tentacles.

You're literally in a database as a probable propaganda asset for Gulf interests. You're a Saudi intelligence asset, but not for MBS.

You're also not listed as only a Gulf asset. You're linked to other countries. This is not a joke. Should we make them public?

You've taken money from the House of Saud and it looks like money has been transferred from Saudi Arabia through the American University of Beirut to you.

Oh, "Woah," this is getting interesting. You have now convinced me that you are the asset here, a Turkish bot. Your accusing me of being a "Saudi intelligence asset" is what suggested it to me, but the evidence now looks quite strong.

First of all we have the fact that you have only showed up here on this widely read blog in the wake of the Turkish invasion of N.E. Syria with its ethnic cleansing and slaughter of Syrian Kurds, which is proving very unpopular in the US, and the Turkish government needs to offset this. So, time for bots to show up on US blogs.

Second is your ongoing refusal to answer the question about your views on the Armenian genocide. You are not a very good Turkish bot. If you were smart, you would say that you opposed it, but you are too dumb, as your ongoing insistence on referring to me as a "community college economics instructor" indicates.

Of course you are pushing this line that the YPG is the same as the terrorist PKK, but this is just false crap. I went and did some googling on "YPG terror attacks in Turkey." As has been my understanding, there is nothing there on that. I did find several sites openly Turkish that push your precise line: that PKK and YPG are one and the same, but even those open propaganda outlets do not attribute any terror attacks on or in Turkey to YPG, only to the non-YPG part of PKK. Your line is identical to these outlets and is false.

Finally I found a UK site based on UK intelligence providing advice to travelers in Turkey who are concerned about terrorism. The site listed six terror groups to be worried about in or near Turkey: Daesh, PKK, TAK, DHKP-C, THKP-C, and AQ.

Now you might to say that PKK includes YPG, but YPG was specifically mentioned, but not as a source of terrorism. It was noted that it and the Gulen movement are not proscribed in the UK, but that it is illegal to belong to either of them in Turkey. So, "Woah," not a shred of evidence of any terrorism against Turkey by YPG, but clear recognition that Turkey has a hysterical paranoid attitude towards it that is a pile of crap.

The site is www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/turkey/terrorism .

So, "Woah," looks like you are a Turkish bot. You are supporting a horrible invasion that is completely against the US national interest. I suggest you get lost, the sooner the better.

You're a trio of bores

At least we are not a trio of bone saws, although note that there seem to be at least two of both Woah and Xyzzy, so actually there are five of us, even more boring.


"A great American academic" would not grace your hysterics with a response. Evidently (self-provided), Barkley Rosser is a weak and insecure person who too easily is pushed around by partisan cranks that shriek loudly.

Plus, in the real World - apparently something with which you and Barkley have precious little experience - not commenting about the latest ORANGE MAN BAD! media (see ABC News use of KY, US Army films to instigate faux outrage) lies does not constitute genocide.

Honestly, do you really think this post of yours has a shred of wit or insight? So what's the point? Everyone knows that you are a fire-breathing Trump lover. In the football game that you think politics is, you love the red team and hate the blue one. Why do you keep repeating it in every thread?

Do you think anyone on the blue team is going to read your stuff and change their minds? Do you think there are some other anonymous posters here who aren't aware that you cheer for the red team?

I guess what I'm asking here is, why are you such an idiot?


I guess what I am asking is; are the left war mongers?

Dick the B.,

"weak and insecure"? My wife's arrival in the US on April 4, 1987 was the top story on CNN. This followed both of us battling with both the US and Soviet governments. I actually held a press conference in front of the US State Department denouncing the policies of both governments.

Have you ever done anything like that, "Butcher"? I doubt it, boy.

Tyler is pretty good at prediction and willing to go on the record. I looked for the MRU video on their work. (My students like the new Lego ones by the way). It has a comment below the video: "They're going to win their Nobel Prizes sooner than most people are expecting. This video is quite short because most of our major coverage of their work appears elsewhere in this course, such as the sections on health and education."

Speaking of elephants (in the room): https://priorprobability.com/2019/10/14/does-economics-need-a-nobel-prize/

I was a Lowell House undergrad when Kremer was a tutor as a grad student (and I think as a young faculty member). God, he was wonderful. I think he started WorldTeach, and he was very into getting young people to do good work and to volunteer. Just a decent human being all around and a beloved tutor.

BTW, congrats to Tyler for actually calling this year's award.

I don't want to know what sort of controversies you are discussing with those guys, but it makes them sound quite delusional...
So let's stick to the Nobel discussion. Kremer is well deserving, no doubt. However, there was more disagreement about the other two in my circles which are modern macro colleagues or MN macro some like to say. Their position is that the RCT development work, while very important from the human point of view, has not contributed much within the serious economics research realm. If the Nobel people wanted to reward that work, they could have simply given them a peace prize like they did for Yunnus. Your thoughts?


I agree, but please note that I did not start or bring any of this up. Others did so, which led to me being subjected to fairly serious personal attacks, including of being a foreign intelligence asset as well as some other garbage. I shall defend myself in the face of such stuff, but I do intend to stop bothering with this if these people continue with their stuff. I think I have more or less put them in their place. Sorry that others decided to go after me here on matters unrelated to this thread.

And here is Kremer’s work on teacher incentives — incentives matter!

Well yea but the abstract talks about Kenyan teachers being absent 20% of the time. When performance is at such a low level you have a very low hanging fruit situation going on. A few incentives can shift that performance dramatically.

But diminishing returns still exist. IMO I suspect teaching is a bit like gym training. 95% of the benefit is just showing up and having the person exercise on a consistent basis. After that it gets harder and harder to find 'better' training. If you're an Olympic champion, it makes sense to pay/search out the guy who can get you 97% rather than 95%, but outside that critical zone where even a tiny advantage may make the difference between getting a gold or not, it has almost no benefit for the normal person.

This would explain why teaching has developed the pay structure it has. Beginning teachers are underpaid, long term overpaid and the model is a 'golden handcuff' where once you land a job all incentives are set for you to stay there as long as you can. Why? Possibly because once you find a 'good teacher', the search is more or less over. There are few reliable techniques that can be captured that would make the difference beyond the 95% level. Since most of the cost is the search to find someone capable of the 95% level of output, 'golden handcuffs' lock such a person in to minimize turnover.

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