Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rethinking Global Poverty

Scott Fitzgerald said that the rich are different. But what about the poor? Beyond the common denominator of poverty, are there aspects of a life of poverty that we just don’t understand? Does poverty itself create a different world view that accounts for the fundamental failure of so many well meaning anti-poverty programs? Moreover, even after our experience tells us otherwise, why do we continue to look for a magic bullet that will suddenly eradicate poverty and transform the developing world? The bottom line, is that we need to carefully and honestly measure results and realize that success it is a process that is often a slow and painful. No one working in the international development field today is as wise on these issues as Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee.

Esther Duflo is a leading development economist known for her work in applying impact evaluation, and controlled trials and other field experiments to identify which development interventions actually work. She is the Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at the MIT and co-founder of the Poverty Action Lab. She is a MacArther fellow and recognized by The Economist, Fortune and Foreign Policy magazine as one of most influential young leaders of our time.

Abhijit Banerjee is the Ford Foundation international professor of economics at MIT, also a co-founder of the Poverty Action Lab.   Duflo and Banerjee's research has led them to identify wholly new aspects of the behavior of poor people, their needs, and the way that aid or financial investment can affect their lives. They are co-authors of Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty.

My conversation with Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee:


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