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UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson recently announced that the British aid budget will be directed toward projects that promote British interests. The announcement follows a lot of criticism in some media of UK aid spending, which has had a negative effect on public opinion. So how does the UK Department for International Development’s new chief economist think that view can be changed?
“If you look at polls of why people are skeptical of giving aid, it's because they think it doesn't work,” Rachel Glennerster tells me in this week’s podcast. “If you can show that this is really changing people’s lives for the better, then that is a key part of building the case for aid.”
One of the ways that aid is working, she says, is by helping girls stay in school—and family planning plays a key role in that. “You have this really important window in adolescents’ lives when there are all these different decisions that are being made, some of which the adolescent girl has power over, some she doesn’t,” Glennerster says. “This is a critical time for women to invest in their own skills, and having kids in that period can really disrupt that investment.”
Glennerster presented some of her research on family planning at a CGD conference on the topic late last year—you can watch it on the event page. To hear more about what drew Glennerster to DFID and what she plans to bring to the table, check out the clip below.