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Poor economics

A pioneering contribution to the poverty debate fails to see the bigger picture

By Oliver Kamm   June 2011

A loan from a microfinance company enabled this tailor in Hyderabad to set up his own shop

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

by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, (PublicAffairs, £15.99)

Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo want to reduce poverty. That goal is common—what distinguishes the work of these young economists, both at MIT, is their methods. They aim to inject scientific evidence into policy deliberation, and advance the debate with conclusions that can be widely agreed on while not being truisms.

The authors have assembled evidence from hundreds of randomised control trials, which…

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