Recommended Reading

This book should top the list for anyone in global development:

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

Authors Banerjee and Duflo, both MIT economists, take a close look at the poor and the decisions they make. With over fifteen years  research in dozens of countries, they suggest that poverty programs and actions should be “radically rethought”. To be effective, these programs need to change to to reflect the reality of poverty as evidenced.

Maybe…we had it all wrong? Some of these insights really challenge basic assumptions. For example, we assume the poor don’t have enough to eat, right? But Banerjee and Duflo observed that given more money, the poor didn’t buy more food, they bought better food (in similar amounts).

I don’t pretend to know all the implications of Banerjee and Duflo’s work, but I find it fascinating and think the impacts, if and when applied to poverty programs, could be profound.

For more, go to the book’s companion website:

Companion Website — Poor Economics

Have you read a great book on development lately? Recommend it here!!


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Rachel Kokel on March 19, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    Sound interesting Julie. I will check out the book. If you have any good questions that might guide me while reading it. I would love to hear them. Also on a different note, Licia Valladares visited UT this semester and had some very interesting insight on NGO and art program impact in social mobility and education in Rio de Janiero. I will be reading her book this semester. If you are interested I can share my thought with you once I am done.


  2. Hi, Rachel!

    I would love to “talk shop” with you! What is the full reference for Valladares’ book. Is it available online? I’ll read it, too. 🙂

    As it turns out, the Poor Economics authors teach a couple of courses using this text. And they have posted PDFs of their PowerPoint presentations on their site – with some excellent questions. In an early lecture, they suggest we:

    ” Not ask the big question: can AID solve the problem.
    But (let us) a more specific question: WHAT aid?
    • Dig deeper into each of these problems (health,
    education, food, credit, etc.)
    – Are there really poverty traps? When are we likely to see

    ETC. There are dozens of great resources here, such as PPTs from lectures, problem sets, and videos.

    Go to



  3. Posted by Lindsay on March 22, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    So happy you found this as challenging as I did!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: