04/02/2012 06:54 pm ET

Does Empowering Women Improve the Economy?

Last week's Lunch with the FT column featured an interview with Esther Duflo, MIT economist and co-author of Poor Economics. Duflo and her co-author Abhijit Banerjee run MIT's Poverty Action Lab, where they use randomized control experiments - a model borrowed from drug testing - to evaluate the effectiveness of development projects. The book is a combination of lessons from these experiments about what approaches work, and an attempt to understand and explain why the poor sometimes make choices that seem 'irrational' to outside observers. It's a great read, and I highly recommend it.

But I'm troubled by Duflo's response to a question from the FT's John Gapper about the role that women's empowerment plays in eradicating poverty.

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