There are 38 entries in this category.
Jun 29, 2011
Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, co-founders of the Jameel Poverty Action Lab and co-authors of the recent book Poor Economics are at the heart of the movement to seek rigorous evidence about the lives of the poor and programs that aim to help them. As they write in Poor Economics, they believe that “we have to abandon the habit of reducing the poor to cartoon characters and take the time to really understand their lives, in all their complexity and richness.”
Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Banerjee and Duflo for an extended conversation about the small and big pictures that emerge from their research, their critics and their plan to change the world. In fact, the conversation was so extended that I’ve had to break it up into pieces. We’ll be publishing it in four parts over the next few weeks—the full interview will be available soon via Amazon Kindle.
In Part 3, we discuss whether focusing on women and girls will yield better development results and the role of food subsidies and cash transfers in India.
Oct 29, 2010
A planned public discussion of how to evaluate the Millennium Villages Project was canceled this week for unknown reasons. Join a petition to encourage the Center for Global Development, the World Bank and the Millennium Villages Project to reschedule the discussion and make it accessible to all.
Jun 29, 2010
Jun 02, 2010
It’s often discussed that philanthropy has a fad problem. Philanthropic attention tends to gravitate to the “new”, and even when these “hot” areas show success, they are infrequently carried to scale. In other cases, donors simply declare victory and move on, leaving programs that require on-going funding to spiral downward into failure.
Agriculture is one area that has been a victim of philanthropy fads. Investment poured into the sector during the 1960s and 1970s and yielded perhaps the greatest success in the history of global philanthropy: the green revolution. But the success of the green revolution in Asia led many funders to focus on other sectors, believing the problem was solved. As a result, investment in agriculture and agricultural research declined and progress on improved varieties of global staple crops slowed—and the green revolution never reached Africa.
Recently there has been some movement on this front. The Gates Foundation in particular has become vocal about agriculture in Africa in particular, initiating the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and bringing other funders on board.
But the neglect of the agricultural sector has exposed us all to a counter-revolution, a brown revolution.
Apr 23, 2010
Today Esther Duflo was announced as the winner of the John Bates Clark Medal. The award is granted to the economist under age 40 who has “contributed the most to the profession.“ The increasing recognition of Duflo’s groundbreaking work to bring experimental economics to bear on real world questions is a ray of hope that philanthropy and public policy can learn from what works.
You can read an extensive interview with Esther Duflo here.
Jan 07, 2010
Investors from countries with a lot of money but very little arable land—such as Saudi Arabia, South Korea and India—have purchased the rights to develop millions of acres for agriculture and export the yield for sale in their native countries. Observers implicitly conclude that the lease of Ethiopian land to foreign developers amounts to nothing less than exploitation of the poor by the wealthy. But does it have to be?
Nov 16, 2009
Impatient optimists are like investors in subprime mortgages in 2007. They can be so blinded by the upside that they fail to do their due diligence. In the end, their impatience and pursuit of outsize returns fuels waste and disappointment. Patient optimists, by contrast, have lowered their expectations of any particular program or intervention, but not their belief in a better world over the long term. If we’re going to succeed in making the world a better place, we need to convince more people to lower their expectations, too.
Nov 11, 2009
For substantially less than $10 million you can have a big impact on climate change by using the tools of behavioral economics to help individuals conserve energy. Specifically the widespread deployment of real-time use meters and commitment contracts can help people who want to save energy meet their goals—and it requires very little external funding.