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People's Daily Online>>Opinion

No silver bullet to cure poverty

(Shanghai Daily)

13:00, December 05, 2011

Why would a man in Morocco who doesn't have enough to eat buy a television? Why do the poorest people in the Indian state of Maharashtra spend 7 percent of their food budget on sugar?

Such are the questions that MIT economists Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo seek to investigate in their research, according to the website of their book, "Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty."

Unlike other economists who focus on macro issues such as aid, they approach poverty much as medical researchers might set about finding the treatment for a disease - by conducting clinical trials.

Banerjee and Duflo sat down with [email protected] to explain their concepts and how they can be used to end global poverty. An edited version of the transcript follows.

Q: What is the best way to tackle poverty?

Banerjee: The central point of our book is that there isn't a single answer, that the question itself is wrong. There is no evidence that we could adopt one step that is far more important than the others.

Q: But surely of those hundreds of steps, there must be some crucial ones that come to mind when you talk of eliminating poverty?

Duflo: Yes, there are some crucial steps. I can't say they are the most important but these are very effective. Educating children, for example, is one of them - imparting quality education to them right from a young age.

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