Esther Duflo: Social experiments to fight poverty



Here’s one big question: what has happened to poverty? While optimists talk about flourishing economic growth and proudly declare that this disease will end sooner or later, realists, or the skeptics, point out worsening inequality in nearly all parts of the world as the main consequence of globalization. Despite an ever increasing abundance of various materials amid a burgeoning world population now 7.2 billion strong, 40% among them still earn 2 US$ a day or even less – threshold of what constitutes as ‘economic poverty’ in developing world.

Hundred billions of dollars, the countless of it, have been spent by industrialized countries for decades to help lift these people from the satanic cycle that has plagued them for generations – for little effects. Food production has now enabled surpluses, but people go hungry. Latest marvels in medical technology have shown their potential to heal a great many diseases, but millions of people remain untreated for diseases that are easily recoverable. Children still drop out of school and are entrapped in labor exploitation. What is happening here?

Esther Duflo, a development economist, believes that the root of this problem lies in rampant mismanagement of available resources. The TED talk below offers a detailed explanation, and also solutions as well as examples, on how to handle these mistakes.