(NYT Op-ed) Annie Duflo+Dean Karlan–What Data Can Do to Fight Poverty

“…go-getters” also outperformed the “do-gooders” on the job, seeing the same number of patients in their health clinics while conducting 29 percent more home visits and twice as many community health meetings. (After being recruited, everyone was told about the opportunities for career advancement, so that no differences in performance could be attributed to differing incentives.)

More important, updated data show that communities served by the “go-getters” are doing better on key health benchmarks such as facility-based childbirth, breast-feeding, vaccinations and nutrition. Based on these findings, the Zambian government changed its recruitment advertising as it looks to expand its health-worker program.

These two insights ”” committing to cash savings, recruiting “go-getters” for community service jobs ”” are just the tip of the iceberg. We have found that pairing experts in behavioral science with “on the ground” teams of researchers and field workers has yielded many good ideas about how to address the problems of poverty. Hope and rhetoric are great for motivation, but not for figuring out what to do. There you need data.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Poverty, Theology, Zambia