Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo

(To be revised)
An excellent book that provides insight and rigor regarding the lives of the poor and interventions designed to assist them. This broad work by two developmental economists covers malnutrition, health, employment, microcredit, microsavings and many others. The general approach is to p. 252 and I couldn’t agree more. They prioritize randomized control trials and think good intentions are not enough. This book covers very similar ground (even many of the same published studies) as More Than Good Intentions which came out within days of each other. This makes sense as one of the authors of Poor Economics was the mentor to Karlan. As I had just read More than Good intentions it was impossible not to contrast them. Poor economics provided more depth and detail, but at the expense of readability. Both works present stories of the lives of those in extreme poverty, but More Than Good Intentions seems to have better narratives. I think the two works were trying to achieve similar things but also slightly different things. Poor Economics made a greater contribution to the Sachs v. Easterly (and Collier and Moyo) debate while More Than Good Intentions tried to make things as accessible as possible. In both books the chapters on microfinance flow the best, likely because the content is closest to their economic background. Also, microfinance started More than Good while it occurs later in Poor Economics.
Yes, but if you are a layperson just read More Than Good Intentions. Alternatively, if you want a little more depth, only read Poor Economics. If you are in the field, you should probably read both but can likely get away with just Poor Economics.

pretty stellar supporting website


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