Updated: Sep 29, 2020
David Evans, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, joins us to discuss how economics can be used to find solutions for the world’s poor.
My name is David Evans, and I am a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, which is a research center that focuses on finding solutions for the world’s poor.
I had a high school economics teacher who taught me that economics could be a tool for helping the world’s poorest, most vulnerable families to exit poverty and thrive. So I decided then that I wanted to get a PhD in economics, and in my first year of graduate school, my advisor invited me to go and help set up an agricultural project in rural Kenya. But while I was there, I noticed a lot of the challenges that children faced. Children with poor health. Children without access to a quality education, and so I decided that I was going to focus my work in my career on helping children in the poorest parts of the world access education and health care and a safety net so that they’re safe from disasters and challenges.
The best part of my work is that I get to meet inspiring policymakers and other workers all over the world, who are trying to improve their countries. I’m trying to influence the policymakers in countries and the development partners outside of countries to improve these policies. Now the upside of that of course is that if I’m successful and improving these policies, there’s a large influence across more children than I could ever affect directly. But that said, I’m not the person who actually gets that immediate gratification of seeing the child’s life improved immediately. It’s worth the trade-off.
For students who are interested in pursuing a career in international development, one of the key things is to find opportunities to to work in developing countries and get exposure and then find out where’s the area where you might most be able to contribute, and so my area has been in doing research and then communicating that research and discussing policies with policymakers, but there are a lot of different ways that people contribute in International Development, and so the key is to find an area where you can both be passionate and also offer some skills that will really make a difference, and once you find that place, then you can continue to build those skills and pursue that work.