Poor Economics by Abhijit Banerjee
  • Title: Poor Economics
  • Subtitle: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty
  • Author(s): Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Year: 2012-03-27
  • ISBN-10: 1610391608
  • ISBN-13: 9781610391603


In their enlightening book “Poor Economics,” Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo challenge conventional wisdom and provide fascinating insights into the complexities of poverty. Drawing from extensive field research conducted across different countries, the authors tackle the age-old question of why people remain trapped in poverty and what can be done to alleviate their circumstances.

Banerjee and Duflo approach poverty from a refreshingly pragmatic perspective, emphasizing the need for evidence-based interventions. They delve into a wide range of issues, such as education, health, and financial behavior, to understand the everyday choices and constraints faced by the poor. By studying these nuanced decisions, the authors shed light on the reasons behind persistent poverty and offer innovative policy solutions. Their engaging storytelling makes the book accessible to both academics and general readers, making it an essential read for anyone interested in understanding poverty and finding effective ways to combat it.

Book Review

Book Review: “Poor Economics” by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo

In their groundbreaking book “Poor Economics,” Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo challenge conventional assumptions about poverty and present a fresh, evidence-based approach to understanding the causes and solutions to persistent global poverty. Through an extensive and comprehensive study conducted across various countries, the authors explore the complexities of poverty in remarkable detail.

Banerjee and Duflo begin by questioning the notion that the poor make irrational choices that perpetuate their poverty. Instead, they argue that poverty is a consequence of numerous factors, including limited access to vital resources and a lack of opportunities. With an immense repository of empirical evidence and field experiments, the authors introduce us to the daily lives of the poor, shedding light on the difficult decisions they face on a regular basis.

For instance, the authors challenge the commonly held view that the poor are unable to make long-term investments in education because they prioritize immediate needs. In reality, their choices are shaped by limited access to affordable schooling, poor quality education, and uncertainty about the returns on investment. The authors provide concrete examples of these challenges, such as their study in Kenya that found that even though parents were willing to pay for education, they were deterred by high fees and a lack of assurances regarding the quality of education provided.

Another thought-provoking aspect of the book is Banerjee and Duflo’s emphasis on the importance of understanding the psychology and behaviors of the poor. They argue that individuals living in poverty often face a constant struggle to overcome a scarcity mindset. The authors demonstrate this through their research on the poor’s financial decisions, illustrating how scarcity affects their ability to save or invest in a better future. They present real-life examples, such as a study in India where providing financial literacy training and access to savings accounts led to a significant increase in savings among the poor.

One of the key strengths of “Poor Economics” is its accessibility. Despite dealing with complex economic concepts, Banerjee and Duflo present their findings in a clear and engaging manner, making it suitable for both academic and general readership. The authors skillfully combine rigorous analysis with compelling storytelling, bringing the plight of the poor to life and making a strong case for evidence-based policy making.

“Poor Economics” offers a refreshing and pragmatic perspective on poverty, challenging prevailing assumptions and providing actionable insights for policymakers, aid organizations, and individuals invested in combating poverty. Banerjee and Duflo’s dedication to rigorous research and their empathetic approach to understanding the lives of the poor make this book a valuable contribution to the field of development economics. Reading “Poor Economics” is an enlightening and thought-provoking journey that will fundamentally change the way you think about poverty and the possibilities for change.

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Target Audience

The book “Poor Economics” by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo targets a diverse audience interested in poverty, economics, and development. This book is recommended reading for the following audiences:

  • Researchers and Academics “Poor Economics” is a rigorous and evidence-based exploration of poverty, making it essential reading for researchers and academics in the field of development economics. Banerjee and Duflo’s extensive use of data and their innovative research methods provide valuable insights into understanding the complexities of poverty and devising effective solutions.

  • Policymakers and Aid Organizations This book is highly recommended for policymakers and aid organizations as it highlights the importance of evidence-based interventions in poverty alleviation. Banerjee and Duflo present practical and actionable policy recommendations based on their research, challenging conventional wisdom and providing an alternative framework for making informed policy decisions.

  • Students in Development Studies “Poor Economics” offers an accessible introduction to the study of poverty and development. Its engaging storytelling and clear explanations of economic concepts make it an invaluable resource for students aiming to understand the dynamics of poverty and the challenges faced by the poor.

  • General Readers Concerned About Poverty Anyone interested in poverty and its underlying causes, regardless of their background, will find “Poor Economics” to be a compelling and eye-opening read. Banerjee and Duflo’s vivid narratives and real-life examples make the book accessible to a wide audience. It offers a new perspective on poverty while providing thought-provoking insights into the lives of the poor.

In conclusion, “Poor Economics” is recommended reading as it provides a comprehensive and engaging exploration of poverty, backed by extensive research. It appeals to a broad range of readers, from academics to policymakers to general enthusiasts interested in understanding poverty and finding effective ways to address it. Banerjee and Duflo’s innovative approach and accessible writing style make this book an essential resource in the field of development economics.