In March, Abhijit Banerjee and Angus Deaton, two of the most brilliant development economists of our time, squared off at DRI’s Debates in Development conference.

Here’s the four-minute version:

For Banerjee, co-author with Esther Duflo of Poor Economics, development experiments are valuable because they force researchers to think rigorously about causality, and help create an agenda for learning.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/78374656]

For Princeton development economist Angus Deaton, identifying a causal effect is not so useful because it inevitably depends upon the interaction with other “helping factors.”  More generally, blind trust in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) leads to overconfidence and lack of sufficient scrutiny of  potentially bad evidence.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/78370828]

So that was the short, short version, but if you’ve got a little more time, we have got a longer version. Continue Reading

Debates in Development: The Search for Answers

When: March 22, 2012
Where: The Great Hall at Cooper Union, New York City
7 East 7th Street, New York, NY
View Map

This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited

Register online

9:00am-10:00am
Coffee and Refreshments

10:00am-10:45am
Introductory Remarks from DRI
Technology Answers and Development Possibilities
Yaw Nyarko, NYU Development Research Institute
Finding Answers or Answer-Finding Systems?
William Easterly, NYU Development Research Institute

10:45am-12:15pm
Session I: Development Goals, Evaluation, and Learning from Projects in Africa
Michael Clemens, Center for Global Development
Stewart Paperin, Open Society Foundations
Bernadette Wanjala, Tilburg University Development Research Institute

12:15pm-1:30pm
Lunch Provided
Cooper Union Great Hall Lobby

1:30pm-2:30pm 
Session II: Keynote Address: Finding Answers in the Global Market
Andrew Rugasira, Founder and Chairman, Good African Coffee, Uganda

2:30pm-3:00pm 
Coffee Break

3:00pm-4:30pm 
Session III: Searching for Answers with Randomized Experiments
Abhijit Banerjee, MIT, presentation of the book “Poor Economics”
Discussant: Angus Deaton, Princeton University and Woodrow Wilson School

4:30pm 
“Poor Economics” Book Signing

Download printable PDF with map and schedule

On Tuesday, February 28th, Abhijit Banerjee, MIT Professor of Economics, will discuss how he is rethinking the fight against poverty in his lecture Why aren’t children learning? (and what we can do about it).  The lecture, part of the Albert Gallatin Lecture series, will take place at 6:30pm at the Labowitz Theatre for the Performing Arts at 1 Washington Place in New York City.

Banerjee is the author, with Esther Duflo, of the recent must-read development book, Poor Economics, which describes his and his colleagues’ work evaluating development interventions through randomized experiments at the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).

Download the event poster here; to attend the event register with Gallatin.