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Preview — Poor Economics by Abhijit V. Banerjee
Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty
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 that are untested generalizations at best, harmful misperceptions at worst.
Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo have pioneered the use of randomized control trials in development economics. Work based on...more
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The contemporary debate over the questions of aid and poverty reduction have been restricted to two equally excitable schools - Jeffrey Sach's 'clinical economics', where he asserts that massive increases of aid are necessary across a broad spectrum of problems, and William Easterly's focus on locally-driven reforms. Easterly has a vicious criticism of Sachs, mocking its paternalistic tone and simila ...more
There are five key takeaways from Poor Economics, with regard to any localized campaigns attempting to improve the lives of the poor:
1) Individuals/communities inherently believe that outside orga ...more
To some extent, this book is vulnerable to both those criticisms. The authors make a big push on the importance of empirical evidence in designing interventions – using randomize ...more
It is thoughtful and rigorous, though possibly slightly too te ...more
I'll admit I was a little disappointed that the book wasn't as detailed as her lecture on the actual experiments the Poverty Action Lab has been involved in. There was much more on larger picture topics and brief summaries of experiments and how they contributed to the dialogue on how to address that particular topic within development circles.
That said, it was still a fascinating read and ...more
What happens when a government or NGO infuses large sums into a third world country? The answer -- lots happens. If there is a poor governmental or regulatory structure, some persons become inordinately wealthy by siphoning off funds, some organizations benefit at least for the short term, sometimes important changes begin within the country. How can one predict which will happen? That is what the book is about.
Banerjee reviews his own research and that of others to respond to the question. He ...more
The book is essentially a compilation of anecdotal stories used as evidence for the authors' micro analyses on a macro issue: global poverty. The overall message of the book is that the traditional macro approaches to fighting poverty (Foreign Aid) are not working because there is no care taken for the mic ...more
Not a very charismatic book, quite "wordy" and kind of gets lost in descriptions. but makes good sense.
There is no snap action or conclusions, however, a more concise way of writing could make reading easier. For someone who has time to read, it does describe the complexities, which one often overlooks ... !
Winner of the 2011 Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Best Business Book of the Year Award
Billions of government dollars, and thousands of charitable org ...more
It was a summary of "some aid is good aid" which I already believe, so I guess the persuasion wasn't attractive to me. The details, though, were mostly things I'd already heard or read. I think watching Esther Duflo's TED talk might give away most of the information and excitement of this book.
If you're wondering why not everyone agrees with "The End of Poverty" then maybe this book would impress you. Or if you're st ...more
It is both academic and accessible. It deeply affected my thoughts on poverty (both international and local) and economics.
It explores the effects of various types of aid to the abject poverty of the third world through Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) -- you know, structured experiments with control populations the way you expect to see them through the rest of the science world. Through the analysis of what worked, what didn't, and why, they build a compelling psycholo ...more
Reading this book has allowed me to somewhat understand the complexities of the poor, and how even trying to he ...more
Public debate about the way to combat global poverty has ricocheted between two extremes. One was summed up in 2005 in The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs, the Columbia economist who spearheaded the UN Millennium Development Goals. The other was laid out by former World Bank economist William Easterly the following year in The White Man’s Burden. Sachs advocates massive government-to-government foreign aid. Easterly dep ...more
Duflo and Banerjee are renowned M.I.T. development economists, having conducted numerous randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to understand the poor's way of thinking of how they make life decisions concerning their family's health, education, savings, insura ...more
In their own words, "The positions that most rich-country experts take on issues related to development aid or poverty tend to be colored ...more
The authors basic question is whether or not there is a "poverty trap" and their basic means of exploring this question are randomized experiments in which people are randomly assigned to get misquito nets, or food subsidies, or microcredit, or have savings accounts established for them, etc. The authors are quite proud of this methodological advance; I am appalled that techniques known to statisticians for decades, probab ...more
1. I don't usually read non-fiction because I sometimes find them tedious, so part of this rating is based on how easy it was to read
2. I'm from a developing country, so part of this rating comes from the way the authors discuss development and the ideas involved
3. I'm an Economics major, so I do have a working knowledge on some of the things they talk about, so I can't be completely sure how clear the book is for peop ...more