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Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance Paperback – December 19, 2011


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Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance + Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day + The Economics of Microfinance
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Center for Global Development (December 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933286482
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933286488
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"David Roodman has been the most consistent and articulate analyst of microcredit in recent years." —Muhammad Yunus, founder, Grameen Bank

About the Author

David Roodman is a research fellow at the Center for Global Development. He has been architect and manager of the Commitment to Development Index since the project's inception in 2002.


More About the Author

David Roodman is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development focusing on microfinance, debt relief, and aid effectiveness. His widely praised book Due Diligence confronts questions about the impacts of microfinance and how it should be supported. He wrote the book through a pathbreaking Microfinance Open Book Blog, where he shared questions, discoveries, and draft chapters.

Roodman has been architect and manager of the Commitment to Development Index since the project's inception in 2002. The Index ranks the world's richest countries based on their dedication to policies that benefit the 5 billion people living in poorer nations; it is widely recognized as the most comprehensive measure of rich-country policies towards the developing world.

Roodman has written several papers questioning the capacity of common cross-country statistical techniques to shed light on what causes economic development. He co-authored a 2004 American Economic Review paper that challenged findings of World Bank research that aid works in a good policy environment. His non-technical Guide for the Perplexed builds on analysis of methodological problems and fragility in other studies. Among econometricians Roodman is best known for his computer programs that run in the statistical software package Stata; articles about them won him the inaugural Stata Journal editors' prize in 2012.

Roodman previously worked at the Worldwatch Institute, where he wrote three monographs on environmental issues, and one on debt, Still Waiting for the Jubilee: Pragmatic Solutions for the Third World Debt Crisis. He authored the book The Natural Wealth of Nations: Harnessing the Market for the Environment, which Foreign Affairs called "required reading for legislators around the world." The Japanese edition garnered him a selection as one of "The Outstanding Young Persons" of 2003 by the Osaka Junior Chamber, which led to an audience with the Emperor and Empress.

Roodman spent academic year 1998-99 on a Fulbright in Vietnam. He has never taken a course in economics or statistics.

Customer Reviews

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Intuitively these findings make sense.
John Gibbs
David Roodman writes extremely well and that makes it an engaging read to start with.
Oliver Schmidt
For microfinance activists Roodman has written a page turner.
David Roodman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John Gibbs TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is impertinent to question the effectiveness of charitable efforts, and this makes it difficult for anyone to raise doubts about the practice of microcredit, which involves lending small sums of money to the poor at high interest rates. But if the purpose of the charitable efforts is to help the poor, rather than to gratify the donors, then someone really does need to investigate whether the practice actually works. That person is David Roodman in this book.

The quick - and for most donors very disappointing - answer is that there is no convincing evidence that microcredit is an effective tool for bringing people out of poverty. There are many stories of people who have indeed worked their way out of poverty after accessing microcredit loans, but there are also many stories of people who have worked their way further into debt. According to the author, the most reliable research into the effectiveness of microcredit does not indicate any net positive effect on the incidence of poverty. Microfinance as a whole, however, particularly microsavings accounts, does provide a very useful means for the poor to manage their money.

Intuitively these findings make sense. In Western countries, poor people who save money tend to improve their lot, whereas poor people who max out their credit cards tend to stay poor. Poor people tend to borrow money more often to meet today's needs than to invest in high-return business enterprises. Finding food for today is a more pressing concern than repaying a loan tomorrow.

The surprising thing about the findings is that they tend to contradict the virtually unanimous voice of microcredit proponents over many years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Oliver Schmidt on December 24, 2012
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David Roodman writes extremely well and that makes it an engaging read to start with. He is a very well trained academician who has taken more tie and effort than any other I know to understand what microfinance actually does (with the possible exception of Esther Duflo). He interacted with many users of microfinance and, supposedly more intensively, the providers - managers, investors, development agencies, etc. - and genuinely reflects their experiences and the kind of knowledge they have gathered. He blends and contrasts and syntesis it with the principles and insights of academic methods, particularly in the area of impact-assessment. The result is an outstandingly rich book that offers learning ground for academicians and practitioners equally. A truly due diligence, written to be read!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Roodman on January 4, 2012
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Below are the endorsements the book has received. As the author, I didn't want to rate the book, but Amazon required me to.

Roodman has been the most consistent and articulate analyst of microcredit in recent years. I hope this book reaches a wide readership and brings lasting, universal improvements in financial services for low-income people. --Muhammad Yunus, founder, Grameen Bank, and winner, Nobel Peace Prize

At a time when the pendulum of public opinion on microfinance is swinging from exuberance to cynicism, Roodman's balanced, evidence-based assessment is a timely and seminal contribution. This is an essential read for practitioners, promoters, and critics of microfinance. --Sir Fazle Abed, founder and chair, BRAC

Due Diligence is the result of years of rigorous, fact-based analysis and deep thinking of the type microfinance sorely needs. Anyone interested in the future of financial inclusion should read Roodman's work. --Carlos Danel Cendoya, cofounder,Compartamos Banco

Due Diligence is the microfinance book that grown-ups have been waiting for, as complex and fascinating as its subject. Roodman brushes away the slogans and the oversimplified dogmas to uncover microfinance's long history and multifarious present. It's required reading for anybody who seeks to engage seriously with the questions of whether and how microfinance works. And best of all, it's a pleasure to read. --Felix Salmon, Reuters

Microfinance has more than its fair share of myths, both positive and negative. It's a field in desperate need of cool, rational, and evidence-based analysis, and David Roodman has proved that he is singularly capable of providing it.
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By marymerry on January 7, 2014
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I study economics and have always been interested in microfinance. David Roodman is an expert in this field and he writes wonderfullly. Worth reading!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Boyd Cothran on May 22, 2012
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I work at a non-profit that has considered funding micro-finance programs and so I found this book to be very helpful in deepening my understanding of the context of micro-finance. Roodman gives a great overview of the long history of micro-finance and also reviews many of the ways people have used to evaluate the effects of micro-finance.

The book is readable and thorough. It gave me so many things to think about and discuss with my colleagues. Highly recommended for anyone interested in micro-finance. Read this book before supporting another micro-finance project! ~Tanya Cothran
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