Thursday, February 21, 2008

Once Again its MIT

Improving the world - one randomized trial at a time.

7 comments:

Brett Cottrell said...

I can't help but to have some concerns with this form of testing for one of the very reasons that was mentioned in the article. It is hard to make real human lives your test subjects and knowingly deny help to the control group in a study like that of the textbooks. I understand that it is necessary and probably the best way to go about developing ideas that would lead to a policy so that all individuals would eventually be helped for the better, but it is still hard to stomach when I think about it. Then again, any sort of economic study is going to be affecting people in one way or another, with the goal of progression in policy being the ultimate goal. I do support their efforts to try to get economic studies back in the game and playing an active and effective role as it once did, I suppose that I just wish that it didn't have to seem so "cold" sometimes...

MGraham said...

Randomized trials in Kenya found out that the text book study was useless on one hand and discovered the need to deworm this population programs on the other and “probably improving millions of lives.”
It is refresion to find economists that can think and use common sense.

Steven Olszanowski said...

It is nice to see that economists are not always trying to figure out the best way to grow GDP or maximize profits. These economists are utilizing a real science to try and help people that need it most. Although, we do have domestic problems that could use billions of aid dollars to try and solve.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm too harsh, but i think that these case studies are the best and maybe, the only way to successfully capture real life statistics. It is not fair on an individual basis, yet you are not trying to better individual lives off the bat. The attempt is to better the lives of that society first, which will trickle down to individuals in the long run. And as for the for the comment that we don't have any influential minds in the field of economics, I argue that along with Mr. Banerjee and Ms. Duflo, vice chairman Don Kohn is a pretty smart guy that will lead our country to prosperity. Anyone who heard him speak during business wekk will agree.

Andrew Gibbs

Ian Cronogue said...

I think it is very eye opening to see economics being used for something other than forecasting if Americans will have a good year or will have to hold off on buying another vacation home. While, I do see what some of you are saying that it is harsh to use people as your test subjects, I believe it is just as long as it serves a greater good. If the notion that children performance improves when dewormed, which seems obvisious, had not been conformed likly thouands more would be surffering as the article says. I hope that this work continues to direct money to the proper areas.

Anonymous said...

As a result of the poverty lab we gain knowledge on how to apply aid in order to maximize the benefit a less developed society recieves from it. I understand that it is harsh to know that some of the people involved in the testing to get this information can potentially be left worse off, but in the long run it is worth it. Like Andrew said the quality of life of the society as a whole will improve first, and the benefits will reach everyone over time. This option is much better than spending money in areas when we are not sure if there will be any benefit from it (like the textbook test).

Sue Reuschle

lauren fields said...

i think the MIT poverty lab is a rational idea. i dont believe that people should be denied the necessities but i think it is intelligent to determine on a small scale with a good less necessary, which policies work the best so that they may be utilized in different ways and on a larger scale. maybe something similar could be done in regards to the rainforest. set up test sites in an area to determine which types of agricultural practices or urban buffer zones are the least detrimental to the interior rainforest.