Promoting Global Health and Fighting Poverty

Hybride-Event with Nobel Laureate Michael Kremer, 29 September 2021

How can we pro­mote health and al­le­vi­ate pover­ty in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries? De­vel­op­ment econ­o­mist and No­bel lau­re­ate Michael Kre­mer pro­vides a so­lu­tion to ob­tain re­li­able an­swers for this ques­tion. It in­volves di­vid­ing the is­sue into small­er, more man­age­able ques­tions – an ex­per­i­men­tal ap­proach char­ac­ter­ized by rig­or­ous test­ing. He talked about his work in a keynote in Zurich, or­ga­nized by the De­part­ment of Eco­nom­ics and the Ex­cel­lence Foun­da­tion Zurich.

In his keynote, Kre­mer drew par­al­lels be­tween his work and in­no­va­tion process­es from the busi­ness world, such as new prod­uct launch­es which of­ten in­volve A/B-test­ing. He showed how de­vel­op­ment aid can be made more ef­fec­tive if mea­sures are rig­or­ous­ly test­ed. Equal­ly im­por­tant for him is the co­op­er­a­tion with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and in­sti­tu­tions, he said. This is of­ten seen as an ob­sta­cle, but ac­cord­ing to Kre­mer this is a mis­con­cep­tion. Af­ter all, co­or­di­nat­ing and deal­ing with the lo­cal peo­ple and con­di­tions of­fers an in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary per­spec­tive, which is very valu­able for re­search.

Impressions

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For econ­o­mist Michael Kre­mer, stock­pil­ing ca­pac­i­ty is the key to fight­ing a pan­dem­ic. Switzer­land is ide­al­ly suit­ed for this, he says in an in­ter­view with NZZ. How­ev­er, to en­sure that more Coro­na vac­cines be­come avail­able quick­ly, he pro­pos­es a low­er dosage. This would prob­a­bly also re­duce vac­ci­na­tion skep­ti­cism, he spec­u­lates.

Read the ar­ti­cle (in Ger­man)

About the speaker

De­vel­op­ment econ­o­mist Michael Kre­mer (Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go) has in­tro­duced a new ap­proach for ob­tain­ing re­li­able an­swers to this ques­tion. It in­volves di­vid­ing this is­sue into small­er, more man­age­able ques­tions – an ex­per­i­men­tal ap­proach for which he and his col­leagues Ab­hi­jit Baner­jee and Es­ther Du­flo were award­ed the 2019 No­bel Prize in Eco­nom­ics.

Michael Kre­mer has been able to test a range of in­ter­ven­tions us­ing field ex­per­i­ments since the mid-1990s, for ex­am­ple for im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tion­al out­comes or child health. Kre­mer ques­tions gen­er­al recipes for de­vel­op­ment aid – nei­ther the com­plete re­jec­tion of all fi­nan­cial aid nor the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of de­vel­op­ment aid as the only way out of the debt trap for African coun­tries are worth­while. His fo­cus is on ev­i­dence – that is, on whether a mea­sure makes sense eco­nom­i­cal­ly and im­proves the health of those af­fect­ed. “I see my role as pro­vid­ing that ev­i­dence,” ex­plains Kre­mer.