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Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty

Book Description

Winner of the 2011 Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Best Business Book of the Year Award

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.

Learn more at www.pooreconomics.com

Table of Contents

  1. Praise
  2. Title Page
  3. Dedication
  4. Foreword
  5. 1 - Think Again, Again
    1. TRAPPED IN POVERTY?
  6. PART I - Private Lives
    1. 2 - A Billion Hungry People?
      1. ARE THERE REALLY A BILLION HUNGRY PEOPLE?
      2. ARE THE POOR REALLY EATING WELL, AND EATING ENOUGH?
      3. WHY DO THE POOR EAT SO LITTLE?
      4. SO IS THERE REALLY A NUTRITION-BASED POVERTY TRAP?
    2. 3 - Low-Hanging Fruit for Better (Global) Health?
      1. THE HEALTH TRAP
      2. WHY AREN’T THESE TECHNOLOGIES USED MORE?
      3. UNDERSTANDING HEALTH-SEEKING BEHAVIOR
      4. THE VIEW FROM OUR COUCH
    3. 4 - Top of the Class
      1. SUPPLY-DEMAND WARS
      2. THE CURSE OF EXPECTATIONS
      3. WHY SCHOOLS FAIL
      4. REENGINEERING EDUCATION
    4. 5 - Pak Sudarno’s Big Family
      1. WHAT IS WRONG WITH LARGE FAMILIES?
      2. DO THE POOR CONTROL THEIR FERTILITY DECISIONS?
      3. CHILDREN AS FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS
      4. THE FAMILY
  7. PART II - Institutions
    1. 6 - Barefoot Hedge-Fund Managers
      1. THE HAZARDS OF BEING POOR
      2. THE HEDGE
      3. WHERE ARE THE INSURANCE COMPANIES FOR THE POOR?
    2. 7 - The Men from Kabul and the Eunuchs of India: The (Not So) Simple Economics ...
      1. LENDING TO THE POOR
      2. MICRO INSIGHTS FOR A MACRO PROGRAM
      3. DOES MICROCREDIT WORK?
      4. THE LIMITS OF MICROCREDIT
      5. HOW CAN LARGER FIRMS BE FINANCED?
    3. 8 - Saving Brick by Brick
      1. WHY THE POOR DON’T SAVE MORE
      2. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SAVINGS
      3. POVERTY AND THE LOGIC OF SELF-CONTROL
    4. 9 - Reluctant Entrepreneurs
      1. CAPITALISTS WITHOUT CAPITAL
      2. THE BUSINESSES OF THE POOR
      3. GOOD JOBS
    5. 10 - Policies, Politics
      1. POLITICAL ECONOMY
      2. CHANGES AT THE MARGIN
      3. DECENTRALIZATION AND DEMOCRACY IN PRACTICE
      4. AGAINST POLITICAL ECONOMY
  8. In Place of a Sweeping Conclusion
  9. Acknowledgments
  10. Notes
  11. Index
  12. Copyright Page