TED Talk By Esther Duflo on Fighting Poverty

Esther Duflo’s Award Winning Work on Poverty

The Eye [Photo by John Steven Fernandez] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Esther Duflo is full of best business ideas. She is an influential economist who was recently awarded the John Bates Clark medal for her significant contributions to the field in the area of poverty research. Duflo has been a leader in using randomized field experiments to address important questions of public policy in developing countries.

In one series of papers, she and various coauthors studied the impact of female political leadership on local government spending and attitudes to women in Indian villages. Villages with a female council head tended to shift spending away from education and towards drinking water and roads. In another series of papers she measured the effects of randomized educational interventions such as the introduction of teacher aids, a computer-assisted math program, reductions in pupil-teacher ratios, ability grouping, and various forms of monitoring and incentive structures for teachers.

TED Talk By Esther Duflo on Fighting Poverty

Kite Watcher I [Photo by Meanest Indian] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Esther Duflo recently gave a TED Talk on some of her social experiments to fight poverty. She argues that it’s possible to know which development efforts help and which hurt by testing solutions with randomized trials.

These kind of trials have revolutionized medicine by allowing us to distinguish between drugs that work and drugs that don’t, and they can do the same for social policy. By putting social innovation up to the same rigorous scientific that are used on drugs, you can take the guesswork out of policy-making and ensure that money is not wasted on inefficient programs.

Duflo uses the example of immunization in Rajasthan, India where she used to work. She said that about one percent of children are immunized due to difficulty of access to immunization centers. By addressing this problem you can dramatically increase the immunization rates by bringing an immunization camp to the rural communities