Poor economics: A radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty

Poor Economics lays out a middle ground between purely market-based solutions to global poverty, versus “grand development plans.” It rejects broad generalizations and formulaic thinking. Instead, the authors help to understand how the poor really think and make decisions on such matters as education, healthcare, savings, entrepreneurship, and a variety of other issues. They advocate the use of observation, using rigorous randomized controlled testing on five continents, and most importantly by actually listening to what the poor have to say. Often the answers are startling and counter-intuitive, but make the utmost sense when circumstances are understood. In addition, the universal traps of Ignorance, Ideology, and Inertia often stymie policies and institutions, but may be avoided. From this empirical approach, the authors believe that the best strategies for eradicating poverty can emerge. However, they resist laying out a broad set of conclusions. Instead they draw some simple yet powerful lessons, and believe that small changes can have big effects. The authors conclude on the optimistic note that we are all part of the solution.

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