lomborg143_Hector Retamal_AFP_Getty Images_haiti agriculture Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

Using Data to Find the Middle Ground

Today, many policy proposals are immediately identified as either “left-wing” or “right-wing," leaving little room for discussion. But there is a way to bypass such divisiveness: trusting cost-benefit analysis to identify the policies and investments that would have the biggest positive impact on society.

PORT AU PRINCE – A sad reality of this hyper-partisan, politicized era is that many policy proposals are immediately identified as either “left-wing” or “right-wing” and lauded and derided by partisans as if by rote, with little room for discussion about soundness or impact. But there is an alternative that could help us get past this political divisiveness: using data to help us focus on the policies and investments that would have the biggest positive impact on society.

This may sound like an idealistic thought experiment dreamed up in an ivory tower, but data-driven policies are having a real-world impact in several countries.

In Bangladesh, the government is officially exploring measures that independent economists from there and around the world concluded would do the most to increase prosperity and wellbeing. And in Haiti, local and international experts are studying dozens of policy ideas to do the same.

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