Photo: Gizmodo

Friday, May 28, 2010

Beware: hacks at work!

It's impossible to live in France and work in the poverty field without hearing at least twice a day about the economist Esther Duflo. If you haven't heard of her, she's best known for her work in showing which kinds of policies work best to eradicate poverty. Her evaluation of the impact of removing user-fees to access basic services are much quoted by those advocating their removal.

So it was quite a surprise to read on Amanda Taub's excellent blog Wronging Rights that research she's published, quoted by the influential NY Times contributor, Nicholas Kristof, reports that if the poorest families spent as much money educating their children as they do on wine, cigarettes and prostitutes, their children’s prospects would be transformed.

This article particularly struck me as a colleague only just recently mentioned Kristof as a journalist with whom it may be possible to work given his interest in poverty issues.

I won't go any further in order to encourage you to read Taub's blog. But be warned of influential journalists with a cause to push misinterpreting research to suit their arguments!

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