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Tackling randomised trials in economics
17 December, 2019

The 2019 Nobel Prize has been awarded to three scholars for pioneering recent attempts to answer microeconomic issues in development using randomised experiments.

Over the last three decades randomised trials have become an increasingly popular way of testing interventions designed to address developmental challenges.

But they are controversial. A range of scholars have criticised the use of the approach in development research. Criticism has touched on a number of dimensions. These include questions of ethics, methodological limitations and the danger that policy efforts get reoriented to small interventions. There is also no evidence that the approach leads to better development outcomes.

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‘We live in an age where women no longer need to lose out’
17 December, 2019

The achievements of women students and academics – often against all odds – took centre stage during the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) commerce graduation ceremony on the afternoon of Friday, 13 December.

Although the theme may not have been intentional, the grace and strength with which women tackle their academic work in tandem with a host of other responsibilities and, in many cases, despite major challenges, ran through the ceremony like a golden thread.

Perhaps the most poignant expressions of this were the various women who walked onto the stage to receive their certificates with a small child on the hip. Another was the young woman in a wheelchair whom Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokghethi Phakeng capped at the foot of the stairs.

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Experimental economics fights global poverty
10 December, 2019

The 2019 Nobel Prize in economics was awarded to three researchers for “their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”, one which has “transformed development economics”.

What are randomised experiments? And why have they became so influential in development economics?
Improving the quality of life, particularly for the poor, is considered to be one of the main objectives of modern societies. Doing so requires a certain level of wealth. Economists have been preoccupied for centuries with understanding why some nations have “developed” economically and others have not.

But a more immediate question is: what can be done in the present? More specifically, what policies should less-developed countries adopt to improve the lives of their citizens?

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