In November 2022, the United Stated Agency for International Development appointed Professor Dean Karlan as their Chief Economist. Dean Karlan is a development economist who founded Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) in 2002 and has been its president since. He's also on the Executive Committee of MIT's Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).
IPA and J-PAL have been responsible for a lot of the research that underpins GiveWell's charity recommendations (GiveWell has a 2011 overview of IPA's contributions here). Their work includes:
- Evidence for the effectiveness of free vs. priced bednets
- Ongoing work on unconditional cash transfers
- Evidence for positive effects from deworming (a 2019 Cochrane review suggests otherwise)
- Work suggesting that microfinance isn't that great
- Evidence for the effectiveness of chlorine dispensers
- Work on incentives for immunisation
Dean Karlan seems to have played a big role in advancing evidence-based global development.
USAID has an allocation of $29.4 billion for 2023. Wikipedia says this is the world's largest aid budget. If Prof. Karlan improves the effectiveness of the USAID program by even a small amount it could have a huge positive impact.