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Poor Economics
Cover of Poor Economics
Poor Economics
A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty
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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 these principles, supervised by the Poverty Action Lab, is being carried out in dozens of countries. Drawing on this and their 15 years of research from Chile to India, Kenya to Indonesia, they have identified wholly new aspects of the behavior of poor people, their needs, and the way that aid or financial investment can affect their lives. Their work defies certain presumptions: that microfinance is a cure-all, that schooling equals learning, that poverty at the level of 99 cents a day is just a more extreme version of the experience any of us have when our income falls uncomfortably low.

This important book illuminates how the poor live, and offers all of us an opportunity to think of a world beyond 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 these principles, supervised by the Poverty Action Lab, is being carried out in dozens of countries. Drawing on this and their 15 years of research from Chile to India, Kenya to Indonesia, they have identified wholly new aspects of the behavior of poor people, their needs, and the way that aid or financial investment can affect their lives. Their work defies certain presumptions: that microfinance is a cure-all, that schooling equals learning, that poverty at the level of 99 cents a day is just a more extreme version of the experience any of us have when our income falls uncomfortably low.

This important book illuminates how the poor live, and offers all of us an opportunity to think of a world beyond poverty.

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  • Library Journal

    Starred review from April 15, 2012
    Economists Banerjee and Duflo present an important analysis of the complexities of poverty around the world. Their work spans more than 15 years in dozens of underdeveloped countries. Here, they provide a refreshingly new understanding of poverty, along with their absorbing solutions to it. In 2005, people in worldwide poverty numbered 865 million, or 13 percent of the world's population. The focus in this work is on the poorest of the poor, where the estimated minimum level of income needed to secure life's necessities is 16 Indian rupees (36[) per person per day. Relating this fact to Americans, the authors suggest imagining trying to live in Miami, FL, on 99[ a day. The material covers the economic lives of the poor, various prevalent theories of poverty, how governments can succeed in combating poverty, what the lives and choices of the poor tell us, how the poor can attend school but not really learn, and how many poor actually benefit very little from insurance. VERDICT Narrator Brian Holsopple's nicely paced, steady reading conveys world poverty in a unique manner and is highly recommended for all university libraries. [The PublicAffairs pb published in March.--Ed.]--Dale Farris, Groves, TX

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Fast Company "Reads like a version of Freakonomics for the poor."
  • Steven D. Levitt, author of Freakonomics "A must . . . for anyone who cares about world poverty. Poor Economics represents the best that economics has to offer."
  • Amartya Sen, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics "A marvelously insightful book by two outstanding researchers on the real nature of poverty."
  • Kirkus Review "A smart, engaging investigation of global poverty and why we're failing to eliminate."
  • The Guardian "A refreshingly original take on development."
  • The Economist "In an engrossing new book they draw on some intrepid research and a store of personal anecdotes to illuminate the lives of the 865m people who, at the last count, live on less than $0.99 a day."
  • Forbes.com "Compelling and important. . . . An honest . . . account about the poor that stands a chance of actually yielding results."
  • The New York Times "Excellent. . . . Move[s] the debate to the crucial question: What kind of aid works best?"
  • The Wall Street Journal "Marvelous, rewarding. . . . The sheer detail and warm sympathy on display reflects a true appreciation of the challenges their subjects face. . . . They have fought to establish a beachhead of honesty and rigor about evidence, evaluation and complexity in an aid world that would prefer to stick to glossy brochures and celebrity photo-ops."
  • Financial Times "It is the rich and humane portrayal of the lives of the very poor that most impresses."
  • Cleveland Plain Dealer "Gloriously instructive."
  • Financial World (UK) "Incisive, scientific, compelling and very accessible."
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Poor Economics
Poor Economics
A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty
Abhijit V. Banerjee
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