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David Roodman's Microfinance Open Book Blog

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Owen Barder reflects on his just-posted interview with me in his great Development Drums podcast series:

This is, I think, a microcosm of a bigger story about aid as a whole. There is plenty of evidence that aid improves people’s lives, for example by providing food, water, education and health. It is much harder to show that aid catalyses economic, social and political transformation. (This is partly because, even if aid did have such effects, they would be very difficult to demonstrate statistically.)

As in the case of microfinance, the aid industry tends to over-promise and under-deliver. Everyone wants individuals and countries to be able to stand on their own two feet, and not depend on hand-outs from others. But it does not follow that microfinance can bring this about for individuals, nor that aid can bring it about for countries. Setting this as the standard for success undermines the case for both, by neglecting the very important and demonstrable success of both against more realistic objectives, of helping people to live better lives while that process of development is taking place.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.