A New Gold Standard or Impoverished Economics

The 2019 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was awarded to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” Many welcomed this award as it both increased the diversity of those who received it and recognised the recent trend in economics to give more weight to evidence than theory.

Of course, those who followed our #NotTheNobel campaign last year will know this is not a ‘real’ Nobel Prize, but it still gives the winners huge authority. This is likely to further ensure that their experimental approach is viewed as the ‘gold standard’ for evidence-based poverty alleviation policy. And maybe the status of evidence in economics more broadly will improve. So what’s not to like?

Naila Kabeer, Professor of Gender and Development at the LSE, has examined the validity of this experimental approach and found many shortcomings. She shows that a seemingly objective evidential approach is far from it and discusses what an evidence-based approach to poverty alleviation should look like.

Steve Mandel responds based on his experience as a practicing development economist.

This is followed by open discussion.

Naila Kabeer

Naila is joint professor in the departments of International Development and Gender Studies at the London School of Economics. She is a feminist economist and works on various issues relating …

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Steve Mandel

After spending more than 20 years as a development economist working both as a civil servant in Africa and a consultant in Africa, South Asia, Pacific and FSU/Eastern Europe, specialising …

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