*More than Good Intentions*

Dean Karlan is one of my favorite young economists and in April he will publish a popular economics book, co-authored with Jacob Appel.  The subtitle is How a New Economics is Helping to Solve Global Poverty.

Consider the book an accessible account of "the new development economics," based on field experiments and randomized control trials.  Much of the text focuses on micro-credit, where Karlan has done considerable work, but there is also material on public health, cell phones, and how to get parents to send their kids to school (pay them!).

Anyone interested in a readable treatment of the new development economics should pick up this book.


I'm always very interested in double blind randomised trials in development. There's a lot of theories and not enough verification.

BTW, off topic, but I have a contender for Headline of the day: http://gawker.com/5602520/meet-the-bodybuilding-neo+nazi-porn-star-who-embalms-dead-people-for-a-living

Also, in response to getting parents to send children (specifically girls) to school: new study from Malawi shows that paying works, but school attendance was high whether or not the payment was tied to a restriction that the girl had to go to school. In this study, restricting the money didn't have an effect. http://wwww.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/VVOS-87XP9U?OpenDocument

Is it a serious argument that donated goods hurt Africans on net because they prevent African industry from growing to meet the need? Surely the donated goods free up African industry to focus on other things that people want? Do studies really show a net loss? I just find it hard to believe that free things can do more harm than good. If we gave Africans free cars would there be an objection that this was preventing an African automobile industry?

Why should we solve global poverty? There aren't enough resources in the world for everyone to live an American or even European lifestyle, barring incredible advancements in technology.

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