The Challenges of Global Poverty

A course for those who are interested in the challenge posed by massive and persistent world poverty.

start date
February 1, 2022
length
Estimated 11 weeks
effort
12–14 hours per week

About this course

This course is part of the MITx MicroMasters program in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP), which provides a path towards MIT’s Master’s in DEDP. To enroll in the courses, remain on this site and click the “enroll now” button. If you want to earn a certificate for the courses or start your path towards a MicroMasters program credential, please visit the MicroMasters portal after you enroll.

This is a course for those who are interested in the challenge posed by massive and persistent world poverty, and are hopeful that economists might have something useful to say about this challenge. The questions we will take up include: Is extreme poverty a thing of the past? What is economic life like when living under a dollar per day? Are the poor always hungry? How do we make schools work for poor citizens? How do we deal with the disease burden? Is microfinance invaluable or overrated? Without property rights, is life destined to be "nasty, brutish and short"? Should we leave economic development to the market? Should we leave economic development to non-governmental organizations (NGOs)? Does foreign aid help or hinder? Where is the best place to intervene? And many others.

At the end of this course, you should have a good sense of the key questions asked by scholars interested in poverty today, and hopefully a few answers as well.

Course Previews:

Our course previews are meant to give prospective learners the opportunity to get a taste of the content and exercises that will be covered in each course. If you are new to these subjects, or eager to refresh your memory, each course preview also includes some available resources. These resources may also be useful to refer to over the course of the semester.

A score of 60% or above in the course previews indicates that you are ready to take the course, while a score below 60% indicates that you should further review the concepts covered before beginning the course.

Please use this link to access the course preview.

What you’ll learn

  • To identify and analyze some of the root causes of underdevelopment using principles of economics
  • To understand the unique constraints and trade-offs the poor face when making decisions
  • How to interpret the findings of empirical research that evaluates the effectiveness of anti-poverty strategies, policies, and interventions (including strengths and weaknesses of research)
  • A basic understanding of various econometric tools used in development research, which will provide the foundation for participating in more technical courses in development economics

Prerequisites

Previous exposure to economics and some familiarity with statistics will be helpful. However, previous exposure to economics and statistics is not critical to understanding the material and learning from the course. Various resources will be made available throughout the course for students to learn or refresh on the most important topics.

Meet your instructors

  • Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee

    Abhijit Banerjee is the winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. He was educated at the University of Calcutta, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Harvard University. He is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at MIT. Banerjee is a past president of the Bureau for Research in the Economic Analysis of Development, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society, and has been a Guggenheim Fellow and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow. He is the recipient of many awards, including the inaugural Infosys Prize in 2009, and has been an honorary advisor to many organizations including the World Bank and the government of India.

  • Esther Duflo

    Esther Duflo is the winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. She is also the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics in the Department of Economics at MIT. She was educated at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, in Paris, and at MIT. She has received numerous honors and prizes including a John Bates Clark Medal for the best American economist under 40 in 2010, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2009. She was recognized as one of the best eight young economists by The Economist magazine, one of the 100 most influential thinkers by Foreign Policy since the list exists, and one of the “Forty under 40” most influential business leaders under forty by Fortune magazine in 2010.

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