When the goal is to improve literacy in developing countries, common sense would say you should distribute more textbooks to schools. But common sense is often wrong, according to the Poverty Action Lab, a research group that conducts rigorous evaluations of which aid programs work and which ones do not.

Established in 2003 by three professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Poverty Action Lab uses randomized trials and has reached some counterintuitive findings.


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