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More Than Good Intentions: Improving the Ways the World's Poor Borrow, Save, Farm, Learn, and Stay Healthy Paperback – March 27, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
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-Robert Shiller, Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics, Yale University, and author of Animal Spirits, The Suprime Solution and Irrational Exuberance
"A page-turner that guides donors to strategies that improve the lives of the world's poorest people. Karlan and Appel lucidly describe the research supporting their findings while demonstrating how psychological "nudges" combine with economic incentives to make the strategies succeed."
-Paul Brest, President, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
"Karlan is one of the most creative and prolific young economists in the world. His research lies at the intersection of two of the hottest areas in the field: behavioral economics and development-microfinance . . . . A good follow-up to Freakonomics, Predictably Irrational, and Nudge with a development and poverty spin."
-Richard H. Thaler, coauthor of Nudge
"Dean Karlan is one of the most energetic and enterprising members of a new breed of economists who are trying to fight poverty and change the world, one randomized trial at a time. This book with Jacob Appel conveys not only new and exciting findings from these studies, but also, with its brisk and engaging tone, the sheer joy of search and discovery. An uplifting and stimulating read!"
-Esther Duflo, Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics, Department of Economics, MIT, 2010 John Bates Clark Award winner
"A terrific book for anyone interested in what can really be done about global poverty. Karlan and Appel strike a balance between irrational exuberance for donating money to anything that sounds noble and stern pessimism about any attempt to do good in the world. Here is a clear, workable way forward- described with a compelling, human touch."
-Michael Kremer, Gates Professor of Developing Societies, Harvard University
"Stimulating, breezy, Intellectual; this book has it all. Once I picked up this masterpiece, I found myself opening up a birthday present every time I turned the page. A must read for anyone serious about the most important problems facing humanity today."
-John A. List, Homer J Livingstone Professor of Economics, University of Chicago
"This book wraps a world-changing idea in an immensely readable narrative. If we are going to overcome global poverty, we need more than good intentions, and Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel show us exactly what we need and how to get there."
-Peter Singer, Ira W. Decamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University
"An accessible account of 'the new development economics' based on field experiments and randomized control trials... Valuable, insightful... Anyone interested in a readable discussion of this truly new approach to poverty should pick up this book."
-Tyler Cowen, professor of economics, George Mason University, author of The Age of the Infovore and co-author of the blog marginalrevolution.com
"The most urgent challenge in the world is economic development, and Karlan is right at its cutting edge...An important book-and a captivating one."
-Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist and the Dear Economist column at Financial Times
"The types of research that Dean Karlan and his colleagues at Innovations for Poverty Action conduct are critical for helping foundations like the Ford Foundation."
-Frank deGiovanni, Director of Economic Development, Ford Foundation, former Chair of the Executive Committee, Consultative Group to Assist the Poor
"Karlan is one of the world's leading experts on microfinance in developing countries, and he's done pioneering research around the globe. His work smashes old boundaries within economics to answer some of the most pressing issues facing poor countries today. Most of what we know today about how to make microfinance work for the poor flows from Dean's research."
-Edward Miguel, Professor of Economics, U.C. Berkeley
"More Than Good Intentions offers a new way forward in the battle against poverty. It's a data-driven path, but one populated with real-life stories and full of the human spirit. Karlan and Appel call us to be rigorous in our decisions-and we need to listen to them, for the stakes couldn't be higher."
-Jacob Harold, Program Officer, Philanthropy, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation A
"This wonderful book, by one of the leading combatants, brings us directly to front--lines of the battle for a more reasoned approach to fighting poverty."
-Abhijit Banerjee, the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at MIT
"This book invites you to a conversation. The topic could not be more compelling: global poverty. Your partner could not be more fascinating: one of the leading scholars in the world working on it. The result is everything you would hope for."
-Sendhil Mullainathan, Professor of Economics, Harvard University
"Be prepared to have your preconceptions about international development sharply challenged, as Karlan and Appel break down what really works to alleviate poverty."
-Justin Oliver, Executive Director, Center for Microfinance, Chennai, India
"Karlan offers that all-too-rare combination of academic research excellence and its application to international development practice. Karlan is creating a breakthrough."
-Chris Dunford, President of Freedom from Hunger
"Karlan and Appel write that their goal is 'to speak directly to readers, to lead them into some corners of the world they might not otherwise encounter, and bring them face-to-face with the people who populate those places.' They have succeeded admirably, as both advocates and analysts."
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Top Customer Reviews
The book was easy to read and very engaging. It contained interesting stories of real people that were impacted by these programs. I'd highly recommend this book to those who donate money to organizations that help the poor and to the people who run these programs.
The topics the authors covered were their studies on how to "sell" a program to poor people (as in, get them to use it), various types of microfinance programs (individual, group, along with basic business training, along with specific business advice, etc.), microsavings programs, agricultural programs, educational programs, and health programs (including reproductive health). The last chapter listed the 7 programs that they discussed that they're the most excited about.
This book was a review copy provided by the publisher as an eBook through NetGalley.
If you ever donate money for overseas aid, or care in any way about making the world a better place for the less fortunate, then this is a must read to get the right perspective on how to deal with the problem.
I worked for a microfinance institute in a developing country for 1 year and learnt more from this book than I did from my time in that position.
Talking about RCTs will put off a lot of people otherwise interested in development issues. The semantic should not frighten them. The key word in RCT is "control", as in "control group": in drug testing, as in other RCTs, the control group is a set of people who don't get the treatment or policy measure being tested. "Randomized" means these people are picked at random within the target population, simply by flipping a coin.Read more ›
Frankly, the authors seem to lay out a very fair and reasonable approach to improving most anything. Facts matter and no matter what you try to improve, guessing what will work usually results in sub-par results. That is a huge shame most times but even more so given the stakes and the predicament the world is in around the poorest of us.
The general approach recommended is a terrific methodology for working towards improvement in just about any area. You can wing it and guess or you can systematically figure out how to experiment and test, and heed, the results. Lord Kelvin laid this out long ago as I am sure others did before him. To paraphrase, if you can't measure something in a meaningful way, your odds of improving it are slight. If you can and respond with variation, good sense and discipline, you can often work wonders and almost surely improve.
Towards the end the book seems to drift a bit and does not do as good a job of sticking to that discipline. In the part about education, the authors seem to lose their own point which is not that surprising as one the other authors is a professor. It tends to be harder to think outside the box when you have spent your career inside of it.
For me though, the resonant theme was rich and well detailed. Success comes most typically by a wide variety of safe experimentation, strong analysis on the front and back end and an almost ruthless dedication to heeding the results.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting; provides details on the aid programs that actually are shown to have a positive effect - shown by random controlled studies. Actual data can be surprising! Read morePublished 1 month ago by J. Miller
The case studies were very well outlined. A good read for someone who is new to researchPublished 2 months ago by Maria Littles
I had to read this book for a research and evaluation class because the professor thought we would need an easier read to help offset the more technical books that were also on the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Alan Rathbun
The book More Than Good Intentions is very organized; chapters flow nicely and are easily connected. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Abdulrahman
The authors attempt to show the importance of rigorous random testing of the effectiveness of development projects in multiple contexts to determine what works and what we should... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Timothy B Smith
Excellent book if you're interested to learn about what helps the people in the developing world. This shows the complexities of the problems involved, as well as the numerous... Read morePublished on November 28, 2013 by Boris Yakubchik
I had to buy this book for class. It actually is pretty interesting. It does not read like an economics text book. Read morePublished on November 4, 2013 by Rami Betts