The Poverty Action Lab has deployed a new method of evaluating policies designed to reduce poverty and improve education, among others–learning the lesson from the natural sciences, the PAL uses randomized trials. The results are often fascinating, well if you’re the policy type anyway.
Some of their findings:
Deworming (e.g., of hookworms, round worms and similar parasites which infect more than 25% of the world) is a cheap way of improving education attendance in the Third World.
Village councils in India (panchayats) invest more in infrastructure that is directly relevant the needs of the gender of the council leader.
There remains discrimination against African-American names in job applications. “White names receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews,” even when qualification and experience are accounted for.