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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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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NiDS: telling South Africa’s story since 2008
11 October, 2019
After 10 years of forging partnerships and delivering research excellence, the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) has drawn to a close its time as implementation partner for the National Income Dynamics Study (NiDS). Murray Leibbrandt, professor of economics at UCT and director of SALDRU, provides a retrospective on this phase in South Africa’s first and only national household panel study.
With a nationally representative sample of over 28 000 people from 7 300 households across the country, NiDS was launched in 2008.
NiDS was developed by the South African Presidency as an instrument to gain a better understanding of the socioeconomic dynamics at play in South Africa – a little more than a decade into democracy. The idea was to gain first-hand information about the livelihoods of those who call South Africa home – whether citizens or not – with a focus on overarching societal themes ranging from fertility and mortality to education and migration to income dynamics.
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