Poor Economics wins book prize

2011

Poor Economics, by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, has won the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2011.

Marking a refreshing change from all those cliché-ridden tomes on leadership, the book is about poverty – those living on less than a dollar a day.

Based on 15 years of research, it tries to understand the specific and sometimes contradictory problems that come with poverty (why does a Moroccan farmer who can't afford food find money to buy a television?) and to find solutions that work.

Banerjee and Duflo, who are MIT economists and co-founders of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, say that so much of anti-poverty policy has failed over the years because of an inadequate and often simplistic understanding of poverty. The battle against poverty can be won, they argue, but it will take patience and a willingness to learn from evidence. And in particular, it needs "the three I's: ignorance, ideology, and inertia" to be banished from policy making.

The award aims to find the book that provides "the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues". It was presented to Banerjee at the Wallace Collection in London last night (3rd November). The authors share the £30,000 prize, with each of the five runner-up authors receiving £10,000 each.

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