Nicholas D Kristof for the New York Times:
Now we reach a central question for our age: How can we most effectively break cycles of poverty? For decades, we had answers that were mostly anecdotal or hot air. But, increasingly, we are now seeing economists provide answers that are rigorously field-tested, akin to the way drugs are tested in randomized controlled trials, yielding results that are particularly credible and persuasive.
Randomized trials are the hottest thing in the fight against poverty, and two excellent new books have just come out by leaders in the field. One is “Poor Economics,” by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, and the other is “More Than Good Intentions,” by Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel.
For years, we’ve seen a sterile debate about whether humanitarian aid works. (Sometimes yes, sometimes no.) These terrific books move the debate to the crucial question: What kind of aid works best?
The whole article is well worth a read. And I’ll definitely be taking a look at the referenced books too.