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Randomized-control trials and the pillars of microcredit December 10, 2008

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Via the FT, a great exposition on how little we know about whether (and how) microfinance works to improve the lives of the poor. It includes a rundown of some excellent randomized-control evaluations of microcredit, sequentially taking down supposed “pillars” of microfinance as not necessarily so crucial.

It’s centered on the work of Dean Karlan at Yale, one of the Innovations for Poverty Action folks. And while randomized-control trials aren’t any sort of panacea, I’m glad to see that they’re getting more play and significance in the mainstream press…especially since Berkeley’s firing up it’s rando with CEGA.

Global poverty numbers updated…first time since 1993 September 2, 2008

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According to the World Bank, new worldwide cost-of-living data (the first update since 1993) show that poverty rates in the developing world are greater than had been previously estimated. While much of the info in this brief is nothing new, it’s a handy reference for numbers/rates.