On Econtalk, Russ Roberts recently interviewed Jeffrey Sachs, author of The End of Poverty and head of the Millennium Village Project (MVP). I enjoyed it but thought Roberts was too easy on Sachs. Here’s what I wished he had asked:
Your book, The End of Poverty — did you get anything wrong?
What mistakes have you made with MVP?
You say Nina Munk [author of The Idealist] chose a non-representative village. [Sachs said that Munk spent her time in the only village in “a war zone.”] Did you tell her that? If not, why not?
Munk was on your side when she began reporting, but changed her mind. Why is that?
Why was the project set up in such a way that evaluation is difficult? Why not pick ten villages and randomly select five for treatment?
You say the MVP project is successful because people are copying it — but those people are government officials. Is it plausible they are copying it because they see it as a good way to make money for themselves or improve their career? You must know many worthless medical treatments have been widely copied. Is this your best evidence of success?
No doubt your employees have often told you what you wanted to hear rather than the truth. What’s an example? What have you done to get honest assessments of how things are going?
What did you learn from Nina Munk’s book?
Roberts says he didn’t ask Sachs certain questions because there wasn’t enough time.