Pushing evidence-based policymaking for the poor8 min read 16 Oct 2017, 11:21 PM IST
Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Lab and its collaborators have shown the transformative potential of harnessing scientific rigour for development objectives in India
We set up J-PAL, the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2003. J-PAL is now a network of researchers around the world (160 and counting) united by the mission to improve the quality of the policies that affect poor people worldwide by ensuring that policy decisions are based on scientific evidence. Our tool of choice is the randomized controlled trial (RCT), borrowed from medical science: each candidate’s intervention is first tried out in a treatment group randomly chosen from a larger population. In this way, any difference between the treatment group and the comparison group can be confidently attributed to the treatment. So for example, to study the effect of a new teaching tool, 100 schools chosen by lots from 200 will get the tool, while the rest will continue to use the status quo methods to see whether the new pedagogy makes any difference.