DGH’s Common Book aims to serve as a platform for our global health community of students, staff, and faculty to learn together on topics of common importance. We are happy to share that this year’s DGH Common Book, as voted on by members of the department, is: "Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty" by Abhijit Banjeree and Esther Duflo.

Description: Billions of government dollars, and thousands of charitable organizations and NGOs, are dedicated to helping the world's poor. But much of the work they do is based on assumptions that are untested generalizations at best, flat out harmful misperceptions at worst. The authors have pioneered the use of randomized control trials in development economics. Work based on these principles, supervised by the Poverty Action Lab at MIT, is being carried out in dozens of countries. Their work transforms certain presumptions: that microfinance is a cure-all, that schooling equals learning, that poverty at the level of 99 cents a day is just a more extreme version of the experience any of us have when our income falls uncomfortably low. Throughout, the authors emphasize that life for the poor is simply not like life for everyone else: it is a much more perilous adventure, denied many of the cushions and advantages that are routinely provided to the more affluent. A marvelously insightful book by two outstanding researchers on the real nature of poverty.

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Publication date: 2011

Available through UW libraries at the following link (unlimited ebook access):



Please join us in reading “Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty.” We look forward to both formal and informal discussions about the book and what we learned from it. Happy holidays!