Impoverished Economics? A Critical Assessment of the New Gold Standard (new essay)

I wrote an essay for the World Development Symposium on Development and Poverty Alleviation. Here is the abstract:

This article situates the 2019 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in the history of thought on development, tracing how the focus, theory and methods have shifted in the field. The article evaluates theoretical and methodological critiques of the way randomized control trials (RCTs) are employed by the laureates, as well as attempts to overcome these challenges. In terms of theory, the article demonstrates what gets lost when experiments are guided by methodological individualism and assumptions of individual utility-maximizing behavior. In terms of methodology, the article unpacks the limits of RCTs related to their causal model, and their lack of attention to human agency and wider socio-economic context. Finally, the article discusses the experimental approach’s relevance for research and policy-making and cautions against any approach becoming a “gold standard,” due to the importance of pluralism for maintaining an open debate about development.

Read the full article here and do check out the other essays as well.

Interview with A Correction (Podcast)

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I speak with Lev Moscow about the Nobel Prize in Economics (and what it says about the state of the economics profession). A Correction is a podcast that is directed towards high school teachers and students, based in New York City.  Listen to the podcast here.

Interview on LBO News (Podcast)

This week I had the pleasure of appearing on Doug Henwood’s political economy radio show, the LBO news. He picked my brain about the recent developments in the field of development economics and the work of Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer, in particular. This is a one-hour episode, with René Rojas being interviewed by the political demonstrations in Chile in the first half, and me being interviewed in the second half. You can download the podcast here or listen to it by pressing the play button below.

Impoverished economics? Unpacking the economics Nobel Prize (openDemocracy)

Esther Duflo, 2009. Photo: PopTech

I recently wrote this opinion piece for openDemocracy on the work of this year’s winners of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. The so-called Nobel went to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer, for promoting an experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.

The piece was also re-published by the URPE blog, The Mint, the Kashmir Times, Momentum Institut (in German), and Disparada (in Portuguese), and was covered by several newspapers, including by the Argentinian business newspaper La Nacion (Con el Nobel a los “randomistas”,la grieta llegó al ámbito académico) and the French daily newspaper Libération (L’extinction expérimentale et aléatoire du paupérisme).

Keynote on the political economy of the SDGs, Rio de Janeiro (video)

I was invited by the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC) to give a keynote on the political economy of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at their annual conference, which was organized in collaboration with the IAP Science for Poverty Eradication Committee. You can view the keynote presentation in the video above. Here is my presentation and here is a news article on the event (in Portuguese).

New blog post: Why so Hostile? Busting Myths about Heterodox Economics

Carolina Alves and I unpack misunderstandings about Heterodox Economics in our recent blog post on Developing Economics:


By Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven and Carolina Alves

“Economics is unique among the social sciences in having a single monolithic mainstream, which is either unaware of or actively hostile to alternative approaches.” (John King 2013: 17)

What does heterodox economics mean? Is the label helpful or harmful? Being outside of the mainstream of the Economics discipline, the way we position ourselves may be particularly important. For this reason, many around us shun the use of the term “heterodox” and advise against using it. However, we believe the reluctance to use the term stems in part from misunderstandings of (and sometimes disagreement over) what the term means and perhaps disagreements over strategies for how to change the discipline.

In other words, this is an important debate about both identification and strategy. In this blog, we wish to raise the issue in heterodox and mainstream circles, by busting a few common myths about Heterodox Economics – mostly stemming from the orthodoxy. This is a small part of a larger project on defining heterodox economics.

Read more here.

The post has also been re-published by Union for Radical Political Economics and the Monthly Review. It has also been translated to Spanish (see here).