Good Economics for Hard Times book summary

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Book Summary - Good Economics for Hard Times by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo

Key Insights

With all the big issues facing the world, you may feel like giving up. From climate change threatening our existence to immigration threatening our livelihoods, it may seem hopeless. Especially when you see politicians and leaders doing more fighting than finding solutions. 

Occasionally, you see experts offering their insights. But it doesn’t feel like they’re any better than the politicians. They just pop up on television and make dramatic statements or get involved in the political mudslinging. So it feels hard to trust the experts as well.

Economists get lumped into this problematic system. You might see them as part of the political machine, hired by a politician or business to support their positions. Or economists are academics that are not speaking to average people looking for solutions to the issues that concern them.

Fortunately, there are logical,...

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All of the big and overwhelming problems facing society are not unsolvable. Despite the doomsday messages shared by sensationalist news and politicians, it is possible to address poverty, inequality, climate change, immigration, and more.

You have to look to economics and data-driven solutions for policy ideas. It may seem hard to trust economists, but the ones that aren’t ideological extremists or paid for by corporations can offer meaningful solutions. Economists also can be more transparent and open about their fallibility to gain your trust in these ideas.

Many of the causes of problems are misrepresented by politicians. And the inaccurately use economics as support. The solutions require a nuanced approach. Economic growth must be balanced against inequality and climate change. Market shortcomings must be corrected with government interventions.

If you want to be able to evaluate real solutions, you have to be able to discuss them. This means not just holding on to your prejudices or only discussing ideas in an echo chamber. A diverse set of voices and opinions that can communicate openly will help fix rifts. And then you can fix the problems.

About the Author

Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo are a husband-and-wife economist team that won a Nobel Prize in 2019 for their experimental strategy to address global poverty. This is the second book authored by Banerjee and Duflo. 

Banerjee is an Indian-American who finished his first two degrees in India before completing his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Duflo is a French-American who first attended two French institutions before finishing her Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Both are professors of economics at MIT.

Banerjee is the son of two economics professors, both of whom taught at institutions in Calcutta, India. In addition to his Nobel Prize, he has received many accolades. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Duflo is the daughter of a pediatrician and a mathematics professor. When she won the Nobel Prize in Economics, she was the second woman and the youngest person to have won the award.


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Good Economics for Hard Times