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June 9, 2017 (links edition #17)

With all the discussion around automation and UBI, a blog argues that such developments may ultimately make us think further about the meaning of life. On the same topic but from a different perspective, Australia’s Bowen considers basic income as a blunt payment to millionaires.

Space and location seems to influence coverage of cash transfers (TANF) in the US – that is, they are not necessarily provided based on poverty criteria. Indeed, given the ample flexibility accorded to States, TANF transfers vary widely on design parameters such us targeting, generosity, conditionality, and duration.

A mixed-methods evaluation of ARCC II – a humanitarian unconditional cash transfer program for 25,000 HHs in DRC – finds positive impacts across a range of dimensions, including for returnees, host, and displaced families. New analysis by BCG shows that cash transfers are more cost-effective than vouchers in the Lebanese refugee context. The third of a series of ‘lessons learned’ papers from the Ebola crisis features the challenges in operating in urban quarantine settings. Finally, an IDS working paper reviews research methods for ‘social and political action’ in fragile and conflict-affected settings.

A report by Wilkinson and colleagues at ODI systematically reviews governments’ own reporting on progress against the previous framework for disaster risk reduction, the Hyogo Framework for Action, and call for a deeper understanding of historical pathways for change. Still on disaster risks management, an interesting paper examines the ability of a city, Colombo, to manage flood risks faced by Sri Lankan urban dweller.

We know that poverty and its ramifications affect brain development among stunted children, but an essay goes further and discusses how poverty-induced stress and anxiety can even affect our genes – basically poverty can act like a disease. It also presents a candid personal account around the hardships of upward mobility.

A paper by Emran and Shilpi go beyond the urban-rural dichotomy to examine structural transformation, including deploying a general equilibrium model to explore the role of small towns in the transformation process in Bangladesh.

Based on two experiments in the renewal of national identification cards by the Bolivian Police, Chong and colleagues find that information technology significantly lowers barriers to accessing national ID cards and promotes more equitable provision across the population.

Two warnings against excesses — a new paper warns on the risks about excessive taxation in the poorest countries, while a thought-provoking note cautions against the use of cost-benefit analysis in the messy reality of the democratic process.

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