Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Poor Economics: the book and the website

You've heard of macroeconomics, microeconomics, labor economics, urban economics, health economics, and the rest.

Authors Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo introduce Poor Economics. That's the name of their book and the collateral website of the same name.

From About the Book:
Why would a man in Morocco who doesn’t have enough to eat buy a television?
Why is it so hard for children in poor areas to learn even when they attend school?
Why do the poorest people in the Indian state of Maharashtra spend 7 percent of their food budget on sugar?
Does having lots of children actually make you poorer?

For more than fifteen years Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo have worked with the poor in dozens of countries spanning five continents, trying to understand the specific problems that come with poverty and to find proven solutions. Their book is radical in its rethinking of the economics of poverty, but also entirely practical in the suggestions it offers. Through a careful analysis of a very rich body of evidence, including the hundreds of randomized control trials that Banerjee and Duflo’s lab has pioneered, they show why the poor, despite having the same desires and abilities as anyone else, end up with entirely different lives.
From the Forward:
All too often, the economics of poverty gets mistaken for poor economics: Because the poor possess very little, it is assumed that there is nothing interesting about their economic existence. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding severely undermines the fight against global poverty: Simple problems beget simple solutions. The field of anti-poverty policy is littered with the detritus of instant miracles that proved less than miraculous. To progress, we have to abandon the habit of reducing the poor to cartoon characters and take the time to really understand their lives, in all their complexity and richness. For the past fifteen years, we have tried to do just that.

At the website there's a Teaching the Book section with lectures and other materials.



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