Emerging Voices highlights new research, thinking, and approaches to development challenges from contributing scholars and practitioners. This post features a conversation with Dean Karlan, professor of economics at Yale University, president and founder of Innovations for Poverty Action, and founder of ImpactMatters, a newly-launched organization that assesses how well nonprofits use and produce evidence of impact.
1) How have development economics and the study of poverty evolved in recent years?
Until about fifteen years ago, there were two different strands of development work, both with limitations. The first asked a big, monolithic policy question—“does aid work?—and compared how aid affected development outcomes across countries. But the cross-country research lacked the necessary data and an understanding of critical micro-level mechanisms, or the obvious first step of why some countries get more aid than others. It led to big debates, but failed to determine causality.
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