Audio Content: Methods and Measurement

Hosted by Tim Phillips, with guest Rachel Glennerster

First aired on July 18, 2018.

VoxDev host Tim Phillips talks with Rachel Glennerster, the Chief Economist of the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) about the role for aid in the world.


Glennerster originally hails from an academic background, and brings a perspective of emphasizing evidence-based decision-making to the UK's global-poverty-reduction aid organization. She also underlines the importance of effective aid not as a donor-based approach whereby the UK decides how to help developing countries, but as a demand-driven approach often aiming to strengthen institutions.


As an example, she describes work done in collaboration with the government of Sierra Leone to clean up their Internal Revenue Service, an initiative initially pushed by the government of Sierra Leone, and for which the DFID can provide assistance and advice. She also explains the evidence-based rationale behind an initiative to stage public discussions in Sierra Leone: work by Abhijit Banerjee of MIT, the VoxDev podcast of which can be found \href{}{here} showed the use of information in changing how voters decided their ballots. In Sierra Leone, however, nobody really knew what others actually knew, so the lesson from the case of India couldn't be applied without some adaptation. In order to determine the information that others had, then, they arranged for public discussions in which people could share ideas and exchange information. These discussions have been successful in altering how people vote in a country where people tend to vote along ethnic lines, and have been copied at various other scales around the country.


Overall, Glennerster presents a refreshing and egalitarian perspective to aid: in order to be of assistance, she proposes, one needs to work with local governments, rather than just trying to tell them what to do.