Business Book of the Year
Poor Economics, which champions radical new ways of tackling global poverty, has been awarded the 2011 Financial Times and Goldman award as Business Book of the Year. It is written by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, who are part of a group of economists known as the ‘randomistas’. Banerjee and Duflo themselves are professors at MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
They have used randomised control trials across five continents to test the impact of policies aimed at beating poverty. They tackle everything from the provision of free anti-malaria bed nets to education subsidies in the context of the real-life constraints. And also motivations of the poor, the choices they make and, perhaps, most powerfully, what they aspire towards.
The Economist writes that the professors’ empirical research promises to sift nuggets of truth from the slurry of received wisdom and wishful thinking that characterises much aid-talk.
Banerjee and Duflo advocate what they call a “quiet revolution” and make the case that improved policies can contribute to better politics. Once people experience the fact that good policymaking can make a difference to their lives, they raise their expectations and demand more.