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Thinking Small: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty : Review Essay

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  • Mark R. Rosenzweig

Abstract

In Poor Economics , Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo eschew grand theorizing about poverty reduction in favor of an approach in which intelligently designed and tested small interventions, based on a scientific understanding of the lives of the poor, marginally improve their welfare. In so doing, they describe the findings from the recent large literature describing the behavior and institutions of the poor and the consequences of policy and experimental interventions targeted to poverty populations. In this review, I assess whether "thinking small" with its associated policy regime of transfers, subsidies, and nudges, is both a practical and effective policy prescription for "fighting" poverty and whether the set of studies that have focused on populations that have not escaped poverty has improved our fundamental understanding of both the consequences and causes of poverty. (JEL I32, I38, O15)

Suggested Citation

  • Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2012. "Thinking Small: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty : Review Essay," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 115-127, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:50:y:2012:i:1:p:115-27
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.50.1.115
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Esther Duflo, 2001. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of School Construction in Indonesia: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 795-813, September.
    2. Paul Schultz, T., 2004. "School subsidies for the poor: evaluating the Mexican Progresa poverty program," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 199-250, June.
    3. Christopher Udry, 2011. "Esther Duflo: 2010 John Bates Clark Medalist," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 197-216, Summer.
    4. Hoyt Bleakley, 2010. "Malaria Eradication in the Americas: A Retrospective Analysis of Childhood Exposure," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 1-45, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Emily A. Beam & David McKenzie & Dean Yang, 2016. "Unilateral Facilitation Does Not Raise International Labor Migration from the Philippines," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(2), pages 323-368.
    2. Alain de JANVRY & Elisabeth SADOULET & Manzoor DAR & Kyle EMERICK, 2016. "The Agricultural Technology Adoption Puzzle: What Can We Learn From Field Experiments?," Working Papers P178, FERDI.
    3. W. Bentley MacLeod, 2013. "On Economics: A Review of Why Nations Fail by D. Acemoglu and J. Robinson and Pillars of Prosperity by T. Besley and T. Persson," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(1), pages 116-143, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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