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Back to 2014_09__ICS_Para mejorar las vidas de los pobres necesitamos datos científicos que demuestren las teorías

"To improve the lives of the poor we need data scientists to prove the theories."

Prakarsh Singh, Adjunct Professor of Amherst College, gave a course on econometrics in the world of development at the III Development Week.

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PHOTO: Carlota Cortés
09/06/14 18:34 Carlota Cortés

"More and more people are realizing that to improve the lives of the poor we need data scientists to prove on the ground the theories that are being proposed," Prakarsh Singh, Adjunct Professor of Amherst College (USA). The expert gave the ten-hour course 'Applied Econometrics and Development' at the III Development Week, an international congress on poverty and development organized by the Navarra Center for International Development of Institute for Culture and Society (ICS).

From agreement with the professor, the research in the world of development entails many challenges, among which is the collection of data through a randomized experiment that requires time, funding and contact with local organizations.

"Usually," he said, "a randomized experiment lasts 18 months. If it can't be done, you can get the data from other sources such as the government or surveys". However, he stressed that aspects such as corruption or poor collection of data can affect the results and that, in addition, there are countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea or some areas of Zimbabwe where the microeconomic data are non-existent.

New opportunities in research

"At research there are also new opportunities, especially those brought about by technological improvements. For example, the geographic information system (GIS) is a great advance when it comes to storing and managing data," he emphasized. Thanks to these advances, not only is the collection of data simpler and more accurate, but some new variables that could not be quantified before can also be measured.

The course attendees were mostly students and professors from School of Economics at the University of Navarra. "The participants already had an advanced theoretical knowledge , but I wanted to teach them how to apply those concepts to the real world, how they can design their own experiments and what to do once they already have all the data", he finished.