Debbie's Reviews > More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics Is Helping to Solve Global Poverty

More Than Good Intentions by Dean Karlan
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Apr 21, 11

bookshelves: economics, first-reads, international-development, 2011, review-copy, non-fiction, dead-tree
Read from April 14 to 20, 2011

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher via Goodreads First Reads program.

Karlan and Appel have contributed greatly to international development scholarship with this book. They advocate that development programs must 1) robustly evaluate their effectiveness through randomized control trials, and 2) take into account people's irrational (non-economic) behavioral choices. They provide overviews of various programs designed to help improve the lives of the most underserved in developing countries, whether it was to increase purchasing power, improve school attendance, increase access to medical treatment, prevent disease, or encourage cessation of a negative behavior. Throughout the analysis of all the various programs, one thing was clear: there was no silver bullet for international development programs. What works in one area or sector may not work in another. I found the entire book fascinating. Given limited funds and resources available, it is in organizations working in the developing world's best interest to implement programs that they know are effective, and give the most return for the investment. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in international development work.

My only complaint was that I was mildly irritated by the conceit that the entire book be written in Karlan's point of view, supposedly to avoid confusion on the part of the reader. My thought is that a reader of an international development economics book is sophisticated enough to deal with multiple points of view and multiple authors. There have been plenty of multi-author non-fiction books where the book was written in the third person or each author wrote entire chapters in the first person but clearly marked who wrote what.
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Reading Progress

04/18/2011 page 127
40.0% "I'm really enjoying this book. It's making me check a lot of my assumptions about microfinance."

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