Esther Duflo: Social experiments to fight poverty | Summary and Q&A

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Esther Duflo: Social experiments to fight poverty


By using randomized controlled trials, we can find effective and efficient solutions to social problems like immunization, malaria prevention, and education.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How can randomized controlled trials help in determining effective social policies?

Randomized controlled trials can help determine effective social policies by comparing different interventions, providing scientific evidence on what works and what doesn't. By conducting experiments and gathering data, policymakers can make informed decisions to address social problems.

Q: What is the impact of making immunization easy and providing incentives?

Randomized controlled trials have shown that making immunization easy and providing incentives can significantly increase the immunization rate. In one experiment, organizing monthly camps and providing a kilo of lentils for each immunization resulted in a six-fold increase in the immunization rate. This approach not only improves coverage but also proves to be cost-effective.

Q: How can we determine the best approach for malaria prevention?

Randomized controlled trials have provided insights into the most effective approaches for malaria prevention. One study in Kenya found that providing bed nets for free significantly increased coverage, while still ensuring that people used them. Additionally, the long-term effects showed that free bed nets did not discourage future purchases but rather increased the likelihood of individuals purchasing additional nets.

Q: How can evidence-based social policy improve education outcomes?

Research using randomized controlled trials has identified cost-effective interventions for improving education outcomes. For example, providing information on the benefits of education has been found to be highly effective in increasing schooling. Additionally, deworming programs have proven to be an inexpensive approach that not only improves health but also results in an extra year of education for every $3 spent. These evidence-based interventions help guide policymakers in making informed decisions for educational initiatives.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker discusses the ineffectiveness of aid in eradicating poverty and emphasizes the need for evidence-based social policies.

  • Using examples like immunization, bed nets, and education, the speaker explains how randomized controlled trials can determine the most successful interventions.

  • The speaker calls for a shift towards evidence-based social policy to address social problems effectively.

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