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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
Read in 18 min.
Listen in 22 min.

Many useful tips to:

  • Clarify the role of economics and politics in the possible resolution of social problems.
  • Recognise that global economic dynamics often don’t reflect the supply and demand rule.
  • Understand the importance of the theme of migration.
  • Creatw some distance from the usual stereotypes and blinkered views on complex social issues.
  • Help understand how exponential economic growth has had disastrous environmental consequences and identify new parametres to measure peoples’ wellbeing.

The author of the book:

Abhijit V. Banerjee is an Indian born American citizen. He is the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at MIT, has received numerous honours and awards, and has been named one of the 100 Best Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine. He was also part of the UN Secretary General’s panel on the post-2015 development agenda.

Esther Duflo is a French economist. She was on the Global Development Council under President Barack Obama and has received numerous academic accolades and prizes, among which are the John Bates Clark Medal and a MacArthur Genius Grant Fellowship. Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo are married and are co-founders of Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). Together they also wrote the book Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty. In 2019, they were awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics, along with Michael Kremer, for their experimental approach to the fight against global poverty.

IDEA CHIAVE 1/9

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"

01.
The polarization of ideas and the mistrust towards economists
02.
The significant matter of immigration and why it does not reflect the classic law of supply and demand
03.
The “contact hypothesis” as an antidote to prejudice
04.
Why free trade is more complicated than we think
05.
Exponential economic growth is not necessarily the best solution for people
06.
The necessity for new consumption habits to save the planet
07.
Governments need to create legitimate and generous assistance programs, which make people’s dignity a priority
08.
Quotes
09.
Take-home message
 
 
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