Patt Morrison for May 4, 2011

What's the truth about hunger?

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AMINU ABUBAKAR/AFP/Getty Images

Women sift grains of maize on the Niger border on June 1, 2010; thousands of Niger nationals flooded neighboring Nigeria in search of food as food shortages worsened in the West African country.

Patt talks with economist Esther Duflo about her new theory debunking the conventional wisdom about hunger and poverty. After collecting data from rural villages and urban slums around the world, speaking with poor people from Morocco to Kenya, Indonesia to India about what they eat and what else they buy, she and colleague Abhijit V. Banerjee have uncovered a current and far more complex picture of world hunger. It’s a picture of a world, as they put it, “where those without enough to eat may save up to buy a TV instead, where more money doesn't necessarily translate into more food, and where making rice cheaper can sometimes even lead people to buy less rice.” What implications could their research have for international policy, foreign aid and farming? Duflo joins Patt to talk about how her research might aid policy makers in avoiding sweeping, ideological solutions to problems that defy one-size-fits-all answers.

Guest:

Esther Duflo, professor of economics at MIT and co-director with Abhijit Banerjee of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab; professors Duflo and Banerjee are also the co-authors of the forthcoming book Poor economics: A radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty


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