Evidence based interventions in poverty - randomized control trials (WSJ):
World-wide, in 1981, 2.6 billion people subsisted on less than $2 a day; in 2011, 2.2 billion did. Most of that progress came in China, while poverty has barely budged in large swaths of sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America.Not surprisingly, those who have been on the edge of the status quo of the interventions and the billions of dollars spent that have done little to nothing, are skeptical:
Is it time for a new approach? Many experts who study poverty think so. They see great promise in a new generation of experimental programs focusing not on large-scale social support and development but on helping the poor and indebted to save more, live better and scramble up in their own way.
Prof. Sachs says that “many, almost surely most, of the cutting-edge breakthroughs in actual development in recent years did not result from [randomized controlled trials].” He believes that tackling problems at the level of communities or entire societies, rather than just households, is likely to be more effective—though, he adds, randomized controlled trials should be “a part of a diverse arsenal of analytical and policy tools.”