Policies, Politics: Can Evidence Play a Role in the Fight against Poverty? - Sixth Annual Sabot Lecture

Esther Duflo
September 14, 2011

Esther Duflo delivers the sixth annual Richard H. Sabot Lecture, April 11, 2011.

From her lecture:

"Most of my work has focused on trying to figure out what policy may work in helping to address the various problems linked to poverty. To this end, I have worked on the evaluation of the effectiveness of various policy options, particularly (but not only) on randomized evaluation. I have also spent a lot of time trying to understand how people behave, and why they behave the way they do, at the most micro level. In that, I have tried, as Richard Sabot’s son just said his father told us, to learn from failures as much as from successes.

[. . .]

"I’ll proceed in three steps. First, I will try to argue that perhaps institutions are not qualitatively different from any other form of policy: like everywhere else, details matter. Within a broad frame, there is considerable scope for improvement in how institutions work in practice. Second, I will argue that, even given a set of institutions, there is usually considerable scope to improve policy. Third, good politics can sometimes follow from good policy, easily setting off a virtuous circle."

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