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The Jewelry Store

Nice article, It was inspiring.


This is a course for those who are interested in the challenge posed by massive and persistent world poverty, and are hopeful that economists might have something useful to say about this challenge. The questions we will take up include: Is extreme poverty a thing of the past? What is economic life like when living under a dollar per day? Why do some countries grow fast and others fall further behind? Does growth help the poor? Are famines unavoidable? How can we end child labor—or should we? How do we make schools work for poor citizens? How do we deal with the disease burden? Is micro finance invaluable or overrated? Without property rights, is life destined to be "nasty, brutish and short"? Has globalization been good to the poor? Should we leave economic development to the market? Should we leave economic development to non-governmental organizations (NGOs)? Does foreign aid help or hinder? Where is the best place to intervene?

About the Instructors

Professor Esther DufloFrench economist, Co-Founder and Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), and Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Duflo is an NBER Research Associate, serves on the board of the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD), and is Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research's development economics program.

As part of her numerous professional accomplishments, she has received important awards like top 100 public intellectuals in the world in May 2008 by Foreign Policy, Top 100 Global Thinkers, John Bates Clark Medal for Economists, 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, Best Young Economist Prize, the  Elaine Bennett Research Prize, among others. Source: Wikipedia



Professor Abhijit V. Banerjee. Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Banerjee is a co-founder of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (along with economists Esther Duflo and Sendhil Mullainathan) and a Research Affiliate of Innovations for Poverty Action, and a Member of the Consortium on Financial Systems and Poverty. Banerjee is a past president of the Bureau for the Research in the Economic Analysis of Development, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research, International Research Fellow of the Kiel Institute, Fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow at the Econometric Society. He has also been a Guggenheim Fellow and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow. Together with Esther Duflo, he is the co-author of Poor Economics. Source: Wikipedia


Course requirements

There are no prerequisites for this course. However, economics is a mathematical science so math will appear, in small doses, in two forms. First, this course is empirically-oriented, so almost all of the required readings and lectures will, at times, use elementary statistics to describe the world. In addition, a handful of the required readings will use more advanced statistical tools (such as correlations and regressions) to dig deeper into the data. However, the recitations for this course will go over these more advanced concepts in detail, so no prior knowledge is required. Second, the lectures will occasionally discuss simple mathematical models that economists find helpful to describe some aspects of the data. The intuition behind these models will, however, always be made clear, and can be used as a substitute (for the purposes of your understanding, and when answering exam questions) for mathematics.

Text, films and reading

We will also rely on articles and chapters of other books. Required readings are starred and need to be read before the lecture that they are listed under. Additional readings are not required, but will aid your understanding of the lecture material. Lecture notes will be distributed at each lecture. They are not a substitute for attending the class, but rather a study aide. In order to motivate some of the issues discussed in the lectures and readings, we will watch a handful of short films during some of the lectures, listed in the calendar.


Creative Commons License

The Challenge of World Poverty by Esther Duflo, Abhijit V. Banerjee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on a work at Cover picture source: Pixabay.

Course content

  • Lecture 1. Introduction

  • Lecture 2. Learning what works: The role of experiments

  • Lecture 3. Consumption. Food I: The nature of famine

  • Lecture 4. Food II: Is there a nutrition based trap-the demand for food and calories

  • Lecture 5. Health I: Delivering healthcare, a case study from India

  • Lecture 6. Education I: Setting the stage

  • Lecture 7. Education II: How to make schools work for the poor: Pratham's experience

  • Lecture 8. Education III: Beyond supply and demand wars

  • Lecture 9. Family I: What drives fertility decisions

  • Lecture 10. Family II: Household model and discrimination against girls

  • Lecture 11. Risk and Insurance I

  • Lecture 12. Risk and Insurance II

  • Lecture 13. Credit I: Microcredit under strain

  • Lecture 14. Credit II: The economics of lending to the poor

  • Lecture 15. Savings I

  • Lecture 16. Savings II

  • Lecture 17. Entrepreneurs: The poor and their businesses

  • Lecture 18. Political Economy. Institutions I: The big picture

  • Lecture 19. Political Economy. Institutions II: The very small pictures

  • Lecture 20. Political Economy. Policies, politics

Interested? Enroll to this course right now.

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