The evidence debate continues: Chris Whitty and Stefan Dercon respond from DFID

admin - January 23, 2013

Yesterday Chris Roche and Rosalind Eyben set out their concerns over the results agenda. Today Chris Whitty (left), DFID’s Director of Research and Evidence and Chief Scientific Adviser and Stefan Dercon (right), its Chief Economist, respond. It is common ground that “No-one really believes that it is feasible for external development assistance to consist purely of ‘technical’ interventions.” Neither would anyone argue that power, politics and …

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The political implications of evidence-based approaches (aka start of this week’s wonkwar on the results agenda)

admin - January 22, 2013

The political implications of evidence-based approaches The debate on evidence and results continues to rage. Rosalind Eyben and Chris Roche, two of the organiser’s of next April’s Big Push Forward conference on the Politics of  Evidence, kick off a discussion. Tomorrow Chris Whitty, DFID’s Director of Research and Evidence and Chief Scientific Adviser, and Stefan Dercon, its Chief Economist, respond Distinct from its more general …

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Lant Pritchett v the Randomistas on the nature of evidence – is a wonkwar brewing?

admin - November 21, 2012

Last week I had a lot conversations about evidence. First, one of the periodic retreats of Oxfam senior managers reviewed our work on livelihoods, humanitarian partnership and gender rights. The talk combined some quantitative work (for example the findings of our new ‘effectiveness reviews’), case studies, and the accumulated wisdom of our big cheeses. But the tacit hierarchy of these different kinds of knowledge worried …

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Poor Economics – a rich new book from Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo

admin - May 12, 2011

Just finished Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, the latest Big Book on development. Like all good books, it has its own website, full of background papers etc. It’s from the doyennes of the new focus on measurement in general and randomized control trials (RCTs) in particular, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo from the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action …

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Randomized Controlled Trials: panacea or mirage?

admin - May 7, 2010

Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) are all the rage among development wonks at the moment. Imported from medical research, they offer the tantalizing allure to social scientists of finally overcoming the Achilles’ heel of real-world research – the counterfactual (aka ‘how do we know what would have happened if we hadn’t lobbied the government/ employed the teachers/ built the road etc?). Here, one of the RCT …

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