Archive for July, 2010


Posted: July 30, 2010 in Bubba posts

Social entrepreneurship is often viewed as a mean to fight poverty by generating both social and economic value. But what is poverty and (in particular) how can we measure changes in poverty rates? For example, is an absolute approach to prefer compared to a relative measure, and what is the best base for calculating poverty, income or consumption? These are some of the questions discussed in a recent paper by Meyer and Sullivan. They conclude: ”

“A disposable income based poverty measure better reflects the resources available for consumption than the official poverty measure. However, there are important limitations to the Census valuations of nonmonetary resources including health insurance, housing subsidies, and owner occupied housing. Given these limitations and the fact that consumption better captures well-being, rather than measuring the resources available for consumption, it may be preferable to measure consumption directly. A consumption based poverty measure would more accurately capture changes in well-being and the effects of anti-poverty government policies. Going forward, consumption measures will reflect the loss of housing service flows if home ownership falls or the decline in consumption that might be required to repay debts, both of which would be missed by an income measure.”

What is clear is that poverty is much more difficult to measure than it is to understand. Still, those talking about social outcomes and social impact seldom engages in these discussions.



Country data

Posted: July 28, 2010 in Bubba posts

Devcondata is a great source for macro data in developing countries. In our current project about nonprofit entrepreneurship in China we utilized this from IFPRI.


Posted: July 26, 2010 in Bubba posts

Cleet has not been very active on Bubba & Cleetus lately, perhaps because he’s been in Bolivia, perhaps because he is currently hiding in Utah to finish an article. However, sometimes he sends typical Cleet-stuff like this and this. I’m sure he is doing just fine.


Mmmm.. red tape

Posted: July 26, 2010 in Bubba posts

Back from a data gathering trip with focus on how government regulations and foundation bureaucracy impact nonprofit performance over time. It is clear that there is a lot of frustration out there and my initial reaction is that many nonprofits would love to see some of the red tape slashed so they can concentrate on providing services rather than filling out milestone-reports and evaluations that is never followed up anyway. The World Bank blog talked about red tape and productivity last week.


Always the same people ….

Posted: July 22, 2010 in Bubba posts

I have now spent 2 hours listening to nonprofit executive directors discussing the possibilities of social media and a number of consultants claiming that social media is the tool for creating a more entrepreneurial nonprofit sector. After my ten minute presentation the jolly mood was gone and once again I got pointed at (I just don’t know why folks must point finger at me when they speak). My main point was that if new and different information is what these ED’s are looking for (using social media) to innovate, find new opportunities etc. they will not find any such information with their current practices. We can talk about the glory of the existing infrastructure for information hunting and sharing but these people only shares information with people they already know or want to know. Ethan Zuckerman calls this imaginary cosmopolitanism and Eli Pariser talks about filter bubbles that only connects us with what we like and want, not what is necessarily new and different. ED’s must break out from their invisible prisons by doing uncomfortable things but they must to so actively, not listening to another nonprofit consultant or talk to their friends, donors and clients. But there will be more fingers before that becomes a reality.


Nonprofit self-employment

Posted: July 19, 2010 in Bubba posts

I am currently finishing a working paper discussing the population ecology of my hometowns nonprofit sector. Today I presented some preliminary results and the question came up whether nonprofit self-employment is a good proxy for nonprofit entrepreneurship in the region? This is indeed an interesting question but very difficult to handle. So many nonprofits are small and never register (until last year organizations with less than $25,000 didn’t even have to report to the IRS), some stay in the nascent stage for years, and there are a lot of nonprofit zombies that still roam the streets. Self-employment is often used by economists as an entrepreneurship measure but even in the for-profit domain this is not without issues. Perhaps the most knowledgeable scholar I know when it comes to nonprofit demise and death is Mark Hager (here is a list of his publications) and his research shows how difficult it is to get reliable data on nonprofit self-employment. Still, an additional issue to consider is to what extent this type of nonprofit entrepreneurship impacts economic growth and development in a region.


More BE

Posted: July 18, 2010 in Bubba posts

Yet another comment on behavioral economics. However, I’m still not sure if BE illustrates the limits or future of economics in general.