Dr. Savas Alpay, Director-General of SESRIC, visited the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at the Economics Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on March 22nd, 2012, in Cambridge, USA. J-PAL was represented in the meeting by Dr. Rachel Glennerster, Director for J-PAL Global. The Lab is a network of 68 academics from all around the world who are united by their use of Randomized Evaluations to answer questions critical to poverty alleviation. J-PAL's mission is to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is based on scientific evidence.
At the outset of the meeting, Dr. Alpay informed Dr. Glennerster on the SESRIC initiatives in the field of poverty alleviation, and highlighted that there is a significant room for closer cooperation between SESRIC and J-PAL in various areas including, but not confined to, health, agriculture, education, finance, labour market as well as policy outreach.
Dr. Glennerster stated that J-PAL, with its large network of academics, endeavoured to build evidence through randomized evaluations to see what really helped the poor and what did not. She went on further to say that J-PAL had accumulated a significant amount of implications for policymakers and been working hard to expand its policy outreach particularly into more low-income countries to encourage them to integrate evidence-based policy evaluations and associated outcomes to their development planning. In a notable example, she said that the random experiments on health clearly showed that people on average spent little amounts for preventing diseases and they were highly price sensitive. According to Dr. Glennerster, the situation is even worse in the poor segments of the population which, in turn, dramatically increases the expenditures for the treatment of diseases while making the traditional health policy tools highly ineffective.
Finally, the J-PAL Director expressed her strong belief that the two institutions could work in close cooperation, particularly in functions such as capacity building and policy outreach.
For more information on MIT J-PAL’s activities, please visit here.