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Congratulations to CGD non-resident fellow Dean Karlan of Yale who is one of 13 young economists cited for their work on “real world problems” in a recent New York Times article, “The Future of Economics Isn’t So Dismal,” by David Leonhardt. Dean’s specialty is rigorous evaluation of microfinance programs in developing countries. I’m proud and happy to say that several of his path-breaking papers have just been released in the CGD working paper series. This is exactly the kind of work the world needs more, as highlighted in Ruth Levine’s recent CGD report with colleagues, When Will We Ever Learn?.
Unfortunately, academic economists typically lack the incentives (and too often the inclination) to provide policy context for their findings. So even when they’ve got good new nuggets of evidence-based wisdom they seldom become effective advocates. I guess that’s why we have think tanks...At CGD we are prepared to move on to principled advocacy when our findings warrant it--watch our new 14-minute movie for four recent examples, with testimonials from outside CGD. Or, if you prefer to read, check our work on making markets for vaccines, ranking rich countries on their development commitment, reducing poor-world debt, rescuing the World Bank, and the risks of overstating the real costs to development of the brain drain, some of which are also featured in the movie.
Leonhard has it right: economics need not be the dismal science after all.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.