Tavneet Suri looks at the VoxDev highlights of 2018

Dear All,

As we close out 2018 here at VoxDev, I have decided a holiday column from me should become a tradition. I want to wish all our incredible contributors and our awesome readers a happy holiday. I am so grateful for all of your engagement, support and feedback. I have to admit I am having a complete blast at VoxDev and that is purely because of all of you. Similar to last year, VoxDev will be taking a break from posting new content from 22 December to 2 January.

This has been a great year for VoxDev as we continue on our mission to bring evidence to practice through some cool changes and lots more articles and videos. The cool changes: first, Rema Hanna of the Harvard Kennedy School joined the Editorial Board. Rema brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and, most importantly, passion for our mission – we are thrilled to have her on board. Second, on our first anniversary in June, we launched our hip audio section #VoxDevTalks, both as audio on the VoxDev site as well as a podcast. Take a listen!

Of course, VoxDev would not be possible without our funders (CEPR, IGC and PEDL), our board (Robin Burgess, Rema Hanna, Chang-Tai Hsieh and Chris Woodruff) and our fabulous Managing Editor (Nidhi Parekh). A big thanks to them all for their commitment to VoxDev.

As is becoming tradition, let me close out the year with some of the articles and videos that really struck a chord with me this year. It has been a whirlwind year as economists watch and grapple with policy and political changes across the world. I always say: “conditional on all this happening, I am really glad I am alive and an economist at this time to watch and learn from it all”.   

So, let me leave you with some holiday reading, listening and watching on topics that I think really defined 2018 for me (and hopefully for you). Happy holidays and see you next year with lots more new content and hopefully some cool new ideas!

Women’s rights

2018 has been the year of the #MeToo movement, where thousands of women across different countries posted their stories of sexual harassment and assault. The sheer volume of stories that were shared showcased the magnitude of the issue. On the issue of women’s empowerment, I would like to highlight four interesting VoxDev pieces: 

Perceived risk of street harassment and college choice of women in Delhi

Breaking gender-barriers: How women are becoming managers

Why are older women missing in India? The age profile of bargaining power and poverty

If she builds it, they won’t come: The gender profit gap


Media and social media have been playing an increasingly important role in all spheres of our life, sometimes even harnessed to advance global political agendas. This year at VoxDev, we ran a series on the role of media in developing countries:

E-autocracy: Surveillance and propaganda in Chinese social media

The entertaining way to behavioural change: Fighting HIV with MTV in Nigeria

Prosperity without freedom? Media bias in China

The impact of media censorship in China: 1984 or Brave New World?

Climate change

Climate change is arguably the biggest problem we will face in our lifetimes. We have tried to understand how climate change is affecting developing economies and also how they are dealing with it:

The Amazon forest and the social cost of deforestation

Should they stay or should they go? Climate migrants and local conflicts

Can farmers weather climate change?

Floods and the location of economic activity

Finally, I have been thinking a lot about the topic of misallocation in developing countries and in thinking through this, the VoxDev pieces provided a great framing of the heart of the issues. If you are interested:     

On the role of misallocation in aggregate productivity

Firms, informality, and development

Land rights and agricultural efficiency