Banerjee and Duflo’s “Poor Economics”: Business Book of the Year

Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo’s Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty has won the Best Business Book of the Year prize awarded by the Financial Times (FT) and Goldman Sachs.

From the Financial Times article announcing the prize:

Of the six shortlisted finalists, Poor Economics had “the potential for the greatest impact,” said one of the judges, Vindi Banga, a former Unilever executive, now a partner with private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. Mario Monti, economics professor and former European commissioner, said it was “highly relevant” for a world “where the problems of inequality are becoming overriding.”

(Note: Yes, this is the same Mario Monti who is going to be Silvio Berlusconi’s successor as prime minister of Italy.)

Ever since I joined Duke in 2006, I have taught my development seminar without a textbook. Bardhan and Udry’s (1999) textbook is too mathematical and not empirical enough for public policy students, and easier textbooks such as Todaro and Smith‘s are too macro and not applied enough for the seminar I teach.

As such, Poor Economics is the answer to my prayers. I have been using in my development seminar this semester as “lighter” reading material to supplement the more technical readings (i.e., journal articles), and the book really makes some of the concepts discussed in lecture come alive. I am planning on using it again next year.

If you have not yet read Poor Economics, do yourself a favor and read it as soon as possible. Even aid workers and academics doing research in development can learn new, important things from reading it.

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