Do international aid programs work? Many of us send money to organizations that offer international aid — especially after a natural disaster. Does the money these programs invest, either through direct aid, microloans, gifts of livestock, or other investment, improve the financial and psychological well-being of the recipients?
Listen to the following talk on NPR about how researchers applied the scientific method to determine whether or not aid actually helps families in need. (I’ve also attached the original research review article for those of you who are interested in delving a bit further)
Then, let’s have a discussion about this piece given what we are learning about research — specifically about the types of research that fall under the Experimental category. In your post, address the following
1.) This was a true experiment, what makes it a true experiment? What was the IV in the study?
2.) There was more than one DV in this study. Can you identify at least two of the DVs?
3.) What problem, introduced in Chapter 2, is being described in the passage quoted below? How does random assignment address this problem??
“Take, for instance, a charity that gives a family a cow. The charity might check on the family a year later and say, “Wow! The family is doing so much better with this cow. Cows must be the reason.”
But maybe it wasn’t the cow that improved the family’s life. Maybe it had a bumper crop that year or property values went up in the neighborhood.”
4.) What do you think about the ethics of this approach? Is it fair to withhold aid from families like this?
The main author described it like this:
“One issue is that some families go home empty-handed, with no aid. So the idea seems unethical. But Karlan disagrees. “The whole point of this is to help more people,” he says. “If we find out what works and what doesn’t, in five years we can have a much bigger impact.”
The above statement reminds us that one foundation of ethics–beneficence–estimates two things. First, it estimates the costs or benefits to a study’s participants. But second, it estimates the costs or benefits to our society from the knowledge in the study. Karlan is emphasizing the benefit of this scientific knowledge in his comment. Do you agree or not? Why?