Tavneet Suri recaps the year VoxDev turned 5 and looks to the future
This has been a quiet year in terms of columns from me, so this is my chance to make up for it. It has been a full five and a half years since we launched VoxDev, though I do have to admit that it feels like a lot longer!
When we launched VoxDev, I used a quote from one of my favourite authors, Douglas Adams, saying “We’re off to a great start. We have the first snowflake. Now let's build a blizzard.”
It’s a full-blown snow squall! Since we launched, we have published 630 articles, 121 videos, 174 podcasts (VoxDevTalks) and 5 VoxDevLits, and we have featured over 1,000 contributing authors. During this time we have had close to 2 million page views from over 825,000 users of the site, a feat I never thought we would achieve which has come with an outpouring of support and engagement.
I could not be prouder of what we – emphasis on we – have built. VoxDev has been a community effort in every way, shape and form. That is what I have loved most about it. None of this would have been possible without you. As a (possibly) African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”
Much as I am on the masthead for VoxDev, we are supported by an amazing Board of Editors that is currently Christopher Woodruff and Robin Burgess, but has also included Rema Hanna and Chang-Tai Hsieh over the years. We have had phenomenal Managing Editors during this time – Nidhi Parekh, Nikita Sharma and now, Oliver Hanney – as well as immense support from PEDL (Private Enterprise Development in Low-Income Countries), CEPR (Centre for Economic Policy Research) and IGC (International Growth Centre) for funding and more. A special shout out to Tessa Ogden and Sophie Roughton for always being in our corner behind the scenes. Importantly, a huge thank you to all of our contributing authors, and most of all, to all of you for reading at VoxDev, for using VoxDev columns in your classes, and for supporting us. Asanteni sana!
I want to use the rest of this column to look back at what we have accomplished over the last five odd years and where I think more work needs to be done.
Our biggest accomplishment by far has been the launch of a variety of different types of content. On top of columns, podcasts (VoxDevTalks) and videos, in 2020 we launched VoxDevLits (dynamic literature reviews) which have been a huge success. We have now released 5 Lits, check them out here:
- Agricultural Technology in Africa
- International Trade
- Training Entrepreneurs (Issue 3 coming soon!)
- Microfinance (Issue 2 coming soon!)
- Mobile Money (Issue 2 coming soon!)
Alongside updating these existing VoxDevLits, we also have plans to launch new lits every 1-2 months in 2023, including our forthcoming Lit on Informality, which launches on January 11. To accompany the launches of our Lits this year, our awesome Managing Editor, Oliver Hanney, has worked hard to create launch events, which have been superbly successful, with lots of attendees and views. We have hosted launch events for the International Trade and Agriculture in Africa Lits, and you can register here for our next launch event on Informality with Senior Editor Gabriel Ulyssea.
We have published articles, podcasts and videos on a wide variety of countries (see the cool map below), with India, somewhat unsurprisingly, the country receiving the most focus across our different types of content. However, for many countries, we are either completely missing work, or have just a few pieces. I am hoping we can work explicitly to fill these gaps in 2023 – if you have any cool research, especially on any of these countries, please send it to us at [email protected], we would love to consider it for VoxDev!
VoxDev content by country
Notes: Countries are counted if they are either the single focus of one of VoxDev's 917 articles, podcasts or videos, or one of a small, specific group of countries discussed. A breakdown of our content with a wider focus can also be seen above.
Similarly, we are excited to have so many readers from across the globe (pie chart below), but we still need to work on getting readership up across the developing world. We will be working hard to do this in 2023 too, and we would love to hear your thoughts on how we can improve our outreach (email us at [email protected] with any ideas you might have).
VoxDev users by country
Notes: Created using data from Google Analytics for approximately 825,000 users.
VoxDev will be taking a break from posting new content until the new year, when our schedule of articles, VoxDevLits, and Season 3 of VoxDevTalks kicks off once more. Below, I leave you with VoxDev’s ten most-read articles as holiday reading, enjoy!
- Drawing the line: The short- and long-term consequences of partitioning India (Prashant Bharadwaj & Saumitra Jha)
- Lasting effects of colonial-era resource exploitation in Congo: Concessions, violence, and indirect rule (Sara Lowes & Eduardo Montero)
- The effects of land reforms on farm size and agricultural productivity (Tasso Adamopoulos & Diego Restuccia)
- Management and the wealth of nations (John Van Reenen)
- Women’s empowerment and development: The family connection (Matthias Doepke & Michèle Tertilt)
- Manufacturing revolutions: The role of industrial policy in South Korea’s industrialisation (Nathaniel Lane)
- Where are we in the economics of industrial policies? (Dani Rodrik)
- The impact of media censorship in China: 1984 or Brave New World? (David Yang)
- The impact of the Green Revolution on structural change (Jacob Moscona)
- The impact of criminalising sex work in Indonesia (Lisa Cameron, Jennifer Seager & Manisha Shah)
Speaking of the holidays, I wish you and your loved ones peace, happiness, and joy as 2022 comes to an end. Here’s to an amazing 2023 for us all!