🏆Nobel prize for the most noble cause

Global poverty remains an intractable problem.

Poverty affects kids, youth and adults. It impacts their physical health, mental health, nutrition, education, dignity, and wellbeing.

Poverty dampens optimism and shortens lifespans.

It even drains cognitive power and degrades the quality of people’s decisions, making poverty a sticky trap.

Fighting global poverty is one of the most noble causes, one that’s worthy of Nobel prize.

This is why we find it most inspiring — and timely — that the Nobel prize committee announced today the award of the Nobel Prize in Economics to three economists whose pioneering work uncovered the behavioral causes of poverty and the range of possible solutions to reduce it.

The collective research of Esther Duflo (MIT), Abhijit Banerjee (MIT), and Michael Kremer (Harvard) helped base the global fight against poverty on behavioral data and scientific evidence, producing a rich toolkit of actionable insights and practical solutions.

Duflo, who’s also the co-founder of the MIT poverty action lab, and her colleagues unpacked poverty, using experimental field research in India and Africa to understand what causes poverty, what works, and what doesn’t.

Among the more unexpected findings, Duflo found that giving money to poor people is, counter-intuitively, a rather poor solution compared with investing in developing their skills and human capital.

As research shows, poor people often (mistakenly) believe that getting out of poverty requires a quantum leap in resources—eg, vastly more food, buying modern machinery, getting 12 years of education.

This belief keeps poor people trapped in a “poverty trap.”

Yet, small and concrete investments in people’s skills and human capital infuse hope and give them the mental space to think about more than just scraping by, which leads them in turn to further build up their skills, work harder, save resources, and more.

Such small investments in changing people’s self-belief through innovations that help uncover and develop their skills offer the promise of alleviating poverty at global scale.

The surprising thing is how powerful such small investments are, enabling people to envision a better future for themselves and their families.

That belief about the future — that hopefulness — is the engine of change and one of the key insights that emerged from the research done by today’s Nobel prize recipients.

Poverty is not the problem of the poor, it’s our collective problem to solve.


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