Exploring what works – to Mexico City and beyond

As we enter the final days of preparation for the What Works Global Summit in Mexico City next week, I still worry about whether this is time and money well spent. I do believe that research on what works is one of the best buys in development. Conferences can be worthwhile if they further the evidence agenda. Will we do that, and what will CEDIL’s contribution be? On 14 October, CEDIL will be hosting a full-day pre-conference workshop – ‘Frontiers in evaluating causality’ – where
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Unbalanced Growth in Egypt: Letter from Egypt #1

Driving over one of the many new bridges in Egypt, part of a massive infrastructure investment programme, we saw a woman sweeping the road as cars sped by. I commented to my wife ‘that’s a dangerous job’. As we passed I saw she was sweeping with the brush in one hand, the other holding the hand of a small child she was trying to keep behind her out of the way of the oncoming traffic.  This image captures several aspects of Egypt’s development. Most obvious
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Parachutes, apples and the overstated limits to generalisability

The Nobel prize-winning economist, Angus Deaton, has criticised the development impact community’s insistence on randomised controlled trials (RCTs) as the only source of credible evidence for interventions, declaring: we don’t need an RCT to know we’d rather be wearing a parachute when jumping out of plane. In fact, some years earlier a tongue in cheek systematic review had been published in the British Medical Journal on the effectiveness of parachutes in preventing injury. But it was an ‘empty review’. The authors could find no RCTs
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