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Poor Economics

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Esther Duflo (Author) Esther Duflo is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation ... Read More

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Esther Duflo (Author)
Esther Duflo is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at MIT. Duflo has received numerous academic honours and prizes including most recently the John Bates Clark Medal (2010) and a MacArthur Fellowship (2009). She has also been featured in Foreign Policy's Top 100 Global Thinkers and Fortune's 40 under 40.

Abhijit V Banerjee (Author)
Abhijit Banerjee is the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at MIT. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society and has been a Guggenheim Fellow. He has also received the inaugural Infosys Prize (2009) in Social Sciences and Economics.

Imagine you have a few million dollars. You want to spend it on the poor. How do you go about it? Billions of government dollars, and thousands of charitable organizations and NGOs, are dedicated to helping the world's poor. But much of their work is based on assumptions about the poor and the world that are untested generalizations at best, harmful misperceptions at worst.

Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo have pioneered the use of randomized control trials in development economics through their award-winning Poverty Action Lab. They argue that by using randomized control trials, and more generally, by paying careful attention to the evidence, it is possible to make accurate-and often startling assessments-on what really impacts the poor and what doesn't.

'Poor Economics stands out in the literature on development economics in that it stays away from the 'big questions' to investigate the incredibly multi-faceted and complex lives of the poor, and imagines the policies that could have a real impact.'åá 'Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo want to reduce poverty. That goal is common-what distinguishes the work of these young economists, both at MIT, is their methods. They aim to inject scientific evidence into policy deliberation, and advance the debate with conclusions that can be widely agreed on while not being truisms.'åá 'A marvelously insightful book by two outstanding researchers on the real nature of poverty.'åá 'With regard to institutions and governance, Poor Economics suggests that there is more to improved outcomes than the veneer of participation. The authors' findings affirm over and over again that knowledge really can be a powerful tool for change.'This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about world poverty. It has been years since I read a book that taught me so much. Poor Economics represents the best that economics has to offer.'åá 'Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo are allergic to grand generalizations about the secret of economic development. Instead they appeal to many local observations and experiments to explore how poor people in poor countries actually cope with their poverty: what they know, what they seem (or don't seem) to want, what they expect of themselves and others, and how they make the choices that they can make. Apparently there are plenty of small but meaningful victories to be won, some through private and some through public action, that together could add up to a large gains for the world's poor, and might even start a ball rolling. I was fascinated and convinced.'åá 'Eschewing both grandiose solutions to global poverty and sweeping claims that aid cannot work, Banerjee and Duflo draw on their pioneering experiments at MIT's Poverty Action Lab to show what actually does work-in areas including education, health and governance. Their painstaking, cutting-edge research will allow policymakers to develop robust strategies to improve the lives of the world's poorest people.'åá 'Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo have written an engrossing, deeply readable book, one that moves beyond simple analyses of poverty. It examines, in powerful detail, the challenges poor households face in escaping their condition. It takes on existing poverty mitigation efforts and puts them to test using real, empirical data. The book draws on the best poverty research to discover how successful anti-poverty efforts are, in the context of the real-life constraints and motivations of the poor, the choices they make, and perhaps most powerfully, what they aspire towards. The authors' unwavering attention on actual behaviour makes this an indispensable read. Poor Economics is an informed, challenging debate on poverty, which closely examines solutions that have made a real and positive difference. This is finally a hopeful book, one that retains its optimism and search for answers as it goes to the heart of what it truly means to be poor.''Highly decorated economists Banerjee and Duflo (Economics/Massachusetts Institute of Technology) relay 15 years of research into a smart, engaging investigation of global poverty-and why we're failing to eliminate it. Aiming to change the stigma that revolves around poverty, the authors explore not just how many find themselves in economic quicksand, but why. They suggest that policymakers, economists and philanthropists alike fail to understand the unique problems that lead to poverty; as such, attempts to eradicate it are often misguided. The poor need more than food, the authors write; they need programs that empower them with a real, fighting chance. Through a blend of on-the-ground observations, social experiments and psychological analysis, Banerjee and Duflo showcase an expansive understanding of poverty's traps and its potential solutions. They extol the virtues of such practices as microsaving and microfinance, which cut out debilitating interest rates and predatory moneylenders. But even these solutions aren't without their issues, including lack of trust in the lender and an unwillingness to take risk. The authors advocate for increased access to family planning, as family size is often a leading cause for why many are saddled with financial burden. They also investigate why many forego free or low-cost medical care or education. A refreshingly clear, well-structured argument against the standard approach to poverty, this book, while intended for academics and those working on the ground, should provide an essential wake-up call for any reader.''Banerjee and Duflo's research shows that, in defiance of free-market dictates, such an appeal to public-minded sympathy is far from fanciful. The two researchers run a lab at MIT funded by billionaires who share a curiously non-libertarian outlook and staffed by economists who traverse the most impoverished corners of the world. The research team conducts laborious randomized trials to figure out how to incentivize the poor to wear condoms, take their tuberculosis meds, get their kids to school, and vaccinate their babies, among other actions that are both personally and socially beneficial. The lab's efforts have breathed new life into the elaborate (if so far ineffective) existing network of philanthropic aid organizations. More profoundly, they have laid bare the inanity of the argument-most famously advanced by the libertarian Nobelist Milton Friedman-that the profit motive is inextricable from the solving of problems.''Poor Economics should appease some of [the authors] critics. It draws on a variety of evidence, not limiting itself to the results of randomised trials, as if they are the only route to truth. And the authors' interest is not confined to "what works", but also to how and why it works. Indeed, Ms Duflo and Mr Banerjee, perhaps more than some of their disciples, are able theorists as well as thoroughgoing empiricists. They are fascinated by the way the poor think and make decisions. Poor people are not stupid, but they can be misinformed or overwhelmed by circumstance, struggling to do what even they recognise is in their best interests. The authors recount (with grudging admiration) how nurses in rural Rajasthan outwitted the two professors' efforts to stop them skiving off work. They also describe how borrowers in south India exploited a contractual loophole to avoid taking out health insurance, which their microlender insisted they buy for their own good.''In their final five lessons, Duflo and Banerjee point out that the "poor bear responsibility for too much of their lives" and at the same time their lives are more demanding: they are often running small businesses in very competitive markets or searching for work. They need those "nudges" even more than the rich do to help them make the right decisions ... It's a wonderfully insightful and compassionate conclusion to a question that puzzles anyone in a developing country when they see something obviously dangerous that could be fixed: my sister, a midwife, was baffled by the piles of used needles she found in a hospital yard in Africa, and others jammed into mattresses, and she couldn't understand why someone hadn't disposed of them safely. But while we have safe disposal systems, many developing world hospitals don't.There are other huge strengths to the book, like two evident throughout: patience and humility. Development is not a quick process, and it's very complex, so take it step by step, and constantly listen to what poor people tell you about their lives. It's a much-needed corrective to the breathless urgency of much misplaced aid, which swings from one fad to the next. Or as Duflo put it in an interview: "First it was big dams, then education, then microcredit. And now we're back to dams."'Called Poor Economics, and written by Abhijit Banerjee and EstherDuflo, both professors at MIT, it is the most interesting essay I have read in a long time. The book, soon to be published, is accessible to any reader. It is full of surprises, and will change our way of thinking about poverty and how to alleviate it.Different is exactly the approach Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, economists and co-founders of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), take in Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty. Following fifteen years of research, their book is "a journey into the incredibly multifaceted and complex economic lives of the poor". It is precisely this exploration into understanding the poor, rather than rendering a formula to end poverty that makes it a compelling and important read.A welcome, and sobering, break from all the partisan rhetoric comes by way of "Poor Economics," a new book that is the result of 15 years of research and control trials around the globe by two respected professors of economics at MIT. They examine the myriad effects of poverty on people and societies, upending much of the conventional wisdom held by governments, aid organizations and NGOs, perceptions which in turn drive the way they provide financial assistance and humanitarian aid.'[Poor Economics shows] how those in poverty make sophisticated calculations in the grimmest of circumstances. Even seemingly irrational decisions begin to make sense. This is a world in which desire for fun sees a television purchased rather than more nutritious food; where befuddlement delays investment in a sensible product to insure against drought; or the pressure of time prevents parents returning with their children to a free immunisation camp.'The books' signal achievement is in addressing two disgraceful problems that beset humanitarian aid. The first is that the effectiveness of aid is often not evaluated at all; the second is that even when aid is evaluated, the methods are often dubious, such as before-and-after analysis that doesn't take into account variables that have nothing to do with the aid itself. Humanitarian aid is usually flying blind. These books take the blinders off-de-worming does work, many other efforts do not.It's a good book. It doesn't really contain a radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty, but it does try to cut past lame debates over whether or not foreign aid "works" to instead attempt to find ways to actually assess which programs are working, which aren't, and how to improve those that don't. The book is structured around a set of questions, which are answered with a mix of illustrative anecdotes and randomized control trials of different anti-poverty interventions.Their painstaking, cutting-edge research will allow policy makers to develop robust strategies to improve the lives of the world's poorest people,' writes Paul Brest, president of the Hewlett Foundation, on the back cover. We couldn't have put it better. It is a fascinating, at times depressing, but ultimately thoroughly inspiring read.'Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty is making waves in development circles. Beyond the strong focus on randomised control trials, the book distinguishes itself by wading into issues on which the development community has often ignored or made uninformed guesses. These include the rationale behind the decisions made by the poor, whether they make the "best" decisions available, and how policymakers should respond.'Books that make grandiose claims for themselves often disappoint - but this truly is a "radical rethinking" about global poverty. The authors, two acclaimed development economists, spent more than 15 years working with impoverished communities across five continents. The result is a remarkable work: incisive, scientific, compelling and very accessible, a must-read for advocates and opponents of international aid alike, for interested laymen and dedicated academics.

Product Details

Title: Poor Economics
Author: Abhijit V BanerjeeEsther Duflo
SKU: BK0362093
EAN: 9788184001815
Binding: Paperback

About Author

Abhijit Banerjee is the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at MIT and the author of Poor Economics. He has been named as one of Foreign Policy magazine's top 100 global thinkers and has served on the U.N. Secretary-General's panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.Esther Duflo is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at MIT and the author of Poor Economics. Duflo is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science, and has received numerous academic honors and prizes including the Infosys Prize, the Dan David Prize, a John Bates Clark Medal, and a MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship.

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