I've been doing some interesting reading over the last couple of days. Here are some snippets!
“…we are unlikely to banish poverty in the modern world by trials alone, unless those trials are guided by and contribute to theoretical understanding.” -"Instruments, randomization, and learning in development", Angus Deaton
First, a paper by Angus Deaton on the challenges of using instrumental variables and randomized control trials to evaluate development programs; I like it because he calls into question the theory behind the newest movement in development economics, urging its practitioners to use caution and care.
Second, two articles that discuss the merits of the market, and its limitations. It's fascinating to read these while reading a book called Bad Samaritans by Han-Jyoon Chung, which questions the merits of "neoliberal economics", or free trade, foreign investment, and private-owned enterprises, especially in developing economies with a long-term perspective.
Finally, a large school here in Massachusetts that defies the newest preference for small schools: it has 4,100 students, used to be failing, and turned itself around, with the help of the self-appointed "school restructuring committee". Reflecting on this and other things in life lately has made me think that, while theory and "best practices" are important, what matters more in making change is personal investment (of time and resources), an understanding of the local context, and working with others to create local, creative solutions. Thoughts?