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Journal of Economic Literature: Vol. 50 No. 1 (March 2012)

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

Article Citation

Rosenzweig, Mark R. 2012. "Thinking Small: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty: Review Essay." Journal of Economic Literature, 50(1): 115-27.

DOI: 10.1257/jel.50.1.115

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)

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Authors

Rosenzweig, Mark R. (Yale U)

JEL Classifications

I32: Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
I38: Welfare and Poverty: Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
O15: Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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