Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee

Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee is the Ford Foundation Professor of Economics in the department of economics at MIT, a director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT, and a past president of the Bureau for Research in Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD).

  • Making Aid Work

    Making Aid Work

    Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee

    An encouraging account of the potential of foreign aid to reduce poverty and a challenge to all aid organizations to think harder about how they spend their money.

    With more than a billion people now living on less than a dollar a day, and with eight million dying each year because they are simply too poor to live, most would agree that the problem of global poverty is our greatest moral challenge. The large and pressing practical question is how best to address that challenge. Although millions of dollars flow to poor countries, the results are often disappointing. In Making Aid Work, Abhijit Banerjee—an "aid optimist"—argues that aid has much to contribute, but the lack of analysis about which programs really work causes considerable waste and inefficiency, which in turn fuels unwarranted pessimism about the role of aid in fostering economic development. Banerjee challenges aid donors to do better. Building on the model used to evaluate new drugs before they come on the market, he argues that donors should assess programs with field experiments using randomized trials. In fact, he writes, given the number of such experiments already undertaken, current levels of development assistance could focus entirely on programs with proven records of success in experimental conditions. Responding to his challenge, leaders in the field—including Nicholas Stern, Raymond Offenheiser, Alice Amsden, Ruth Levine, Angus Deaton, and others—question whether randomized trials are the most appropriate way to evaluate success for all programs. They raise broader questions as well, about the importance of aid for economic development and about the kinds of interventions (micro or macro, political or economic) that will lead to real improvements in the lives of poor people around the world. With one in every six people now living in extreme poverty, getting it right is crucial.

    • Hardcover $16.95 £13.99
    • Paperback $13.95 £11.99

Contributor

  • Experimental Conversations

    Experimental Conversations

    Perspectives on Randomized Trials in Development Economics

    Timothy N. Ogden

    Discussions of the use and limits of randomized control trials, considering the power of theory, external validity, gaps in knowledge, and what issues matter.

    The practice of development economics has undergone something of a revolution as many economists have adopted new methods to answer perennial questions about the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs. In this book, prominent development economists discuss the use and impact of one of the most significant of these new methods, randomized control trials (RCTs) and field experiments. In extended interviews conducted over a period of several years, they explain their work and their thinking and consider the broader issues of how we learn about the world and how we can change it for the better.

    These conversations offer specialists and nonspecialists alike a unique opportunity to hear economists speak in their own words, free of the confines of a particular study or econometric esoterica. The economists describe how they apply research findings in the way they think about the world, revealing their ideas about the power of theory, external validity, gaps in knowledge, and what issues matter. Also included are interviews with RCT observers, critics, sponsors, consumers, and others. Each interview provides a brief biography of the interviewee. Thorough annotations offer background and explanations for key ideas and studies referred to in the conversations.

    Contributors Abhijit Banerjee, Nancy Birdsall, Chris Blattman, Alex Counts, Tyler Cowen, Angus Deaton, Frank DeGiovanni, Esther Duflo, Pascaline Dupas, Xavi Gine, Rachel Glennerster, Judy Gueron, Elie Hassenfeld, Dean Karlan, Michael Kremer, David McKenzie, Jonathan Morduch, Lant Pritchett, Jonathan Robinson, Antoinette Schoar, Dean Yang

    • Hardcover $45.00 £38.00
  • Reinventing Foreign Aid

    Reinventing Foreign Aid

    William R. Easterly

    Top experts in the field discuss how to improve the effectiveness of foreign aid, proposing practical solutions to specific problems rather than a utopian master plan.

    The urgency of reducing poverty in the developing world has been the subject of a public campaign by such unlikely policy experts as George Clooney, Alicia Keyes, Elton John, Angelina Jolie, and Bono. And yet accompanying the call for more foreign aid is an almost universal discontent with the effectiveness of the existing aid system. In Reinventing Foreign Aid, development expert William Easterly has gathered top scholars in the field to discuss how to improve foreign aid. These authors, Easterly points out, are not claiming that their ideas will (to invoke a current slogan) Make Poverty History. Rather, they take on specific problems and propose some hard-headed solutions. Easterly himself, in an expansive and impassioned introductory chapter, makes a case for the “searchers”—who explore solutions by trial and error and learn from feedback—over the “planners”—who throw an endless supply of resources at a big goal—as the most likely to reduce poverty. Other writers look at scientific evaluation of aid projects (including randomized trials) and describe projects found to be cost-effective, including vaccine delivery and HIV education; consider how to deal with the government of the recipient state (work through it or bypass a possibly dysfunctional government?); examine the roles of the International Monetary Fund (a de-facto aid provider) and the World Bank; and analyze some new and innovative proposals for distributing aid.

    Contributors Abhijit Banerjee, Nancy Birdsall, Craig Burnside, Esther Duflo, Domenico Fanizza, William Easterly, Ruimin He, Kurt Hoffman, Stephen Knack, Michael Kremer, Mari Kuraishi, Ruth Levine, Bertin Martens, John McMillan, Edward Miguel, Jonathan Morduch, Todd Moss, Gunilla Pettersson, Lant Pritchett, Steven Radelet, Aminur Rahman, Ritva Reinikka, Jakob Svensson, Nicolas van de Walle, James Vreeland, Dennis Whittle, Michael Woolcock

    • Hardcover $80.00 £65.00
    • Paperback $50.00 £40.00