MDRC in the News

Can Science Solve the Poverty Problem?

Knowable Magazine

12/2021

Among the many casualties of the coronavirus pandemic are the poorest of the global poor. Not only are they the ones who are usually hit hardest by the virus, but they’ve also borne the brunt of virus-induced wreckage in the world’s economies…..

…..The good news, though, is that the fight against poverty and inequality is resuming with tools and programs that are more effective than ever before, thanks to a quiet revolt against business as usual that is increasingly being embraced by researchers, activists and government officials…..

…..The use of randomized controlled trials to assess social programs, honored by the 2019 Nobel Prize in economics, is one of the most powerful methods in the evidence-based toolkit. Another, honored by the 2021 economics Nobel, is exploiting “natural experiments” in which similar groups do or don’t get a treatment by happenstance…..

…..“There’s understandably a lot of cynicism out there about how policy is made,” says Richard Hendra, data chief for MDRC, a nonprofit that’s been doing evidence-based policy research since its founding in 1974 as the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation. But after working with both parties, he says, “I’ve been impressed how much people do listen to evidence.”

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