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Learn the key ideas of the book by Abhijit V. Banerjee , Esther Duflo

Good Economics for Hard Times

Taking stock of the socio-economic problems we face today

Immigration, inequality, slowdown in economic growth, acceleration in technological advancement and climate change are among the major socio-economic problems we face today. In this book, Nobel laureate economists Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo take stock of the situation and offer some possible solutions, underlining the role of a good economy, while recognising the need for intelligent political intervention, and a society built on compassion and respect.

Good Economics for Hard Times
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Listen in 22 min.

The polarization of ideas and the mistrust towards economists

In today’s society, we can observe a growth in mistrust towards economists. This happens for many different reasons, first of all, because of the role of the media: due to the sense of urgency and to the limited time imposed by modern communication methods, economists who address the public often tend to express drastic and polarised opinions. This leads to complex economic questions being reduced to simple slogans and common sayings, which thanks to social media, spread like an oil slick. Nonetheless, economists have a lot to contribute when it comes to our global issues, having studied in depth complex concepts such as the influence of migration on salaries, the redistribution of resources, social inequality and corporate tax. As social scientists, their job is to offer facts and interpretations that can help to settle the differences. Unfortunately however, there is little space in today’s society for such conversations and it seems that the average person’s way of thinking is limited to that of his peer circle, or to what they see on the web or on social media, which is also polarised. In fact, because of the way it works, social media acts as a sounding board for our opinions, offering us content which second our beliefs. The economy is not an exact science, and consequently, there are very few absolute certainties. Economists look at problems according to a combination of intuition based on science, conjecture from the benefit of experience and a healthy dose of trial and error. This is why the most precious thing they often have to offer is not their conclusion, but the journey that they have taken to reach it. Another important point is that, historically, economists have always tended to adopt a notion of wellbeing that is considered too narrow, linked only to the parameters of income and material consumption. But, in order to experience a fulfilling life, human kind needs so much more, starting with a deep desire for dignity, belonging and human contact.


The key ideas of "Good Economics for Hard Times"

The polarization of ideas and the mistrust towards economists
The significant matter of immigration and why it does not reflect the classic law of supply and demand
The “contact hypothesis” as an antidote to prejudice
Why free trade is more complicated than we think
Exponential economic growth is not necessarily the best solution for people
The necessity for new consumption habits to save the planet
Governments need to create legitimate and generous assistance programs, which make people’s dignity a priority
Take-home message

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