Russ Roberts

Poverty and Development Podcast Episodes and Extras

Category Archive with 39 podcast episodes and extras
 

Podcast episode Martha Nussbaum on Creating Capabilities and GDP

EconTalk Episode with Martha Nussbaum
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Martha Nussbaum of the University of Chicago and author of Creating Capabilities talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about an alternative to GDP for measuring economic performance at the national level. She is a proponent of the capabilities approach that emphasizes how easily individuals can acquire skills and use them, as well as the capability to live long and enjoy life. Nussbaum argues that government policy should focus on creating capabilities rather than allowing them to emerge through individual choices and civil society.

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This week, Roberts returned to a political-economy topic, law, with guest Barry Weingast of Stanford.

As always, we'd like to hear what you thought. So use the prompts below to share your thoughts and spark some conversation.

CONTINUE READING...


   

Podcast episode Chris Blattman on Cash, Poverty, and Development

EconTalk Episode with Chris Blattman
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Chris Blattman of Columbia University talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a radical approach to fighting poverty in desperately poor countries: giving cash to aid recipients and allowing them to spend it as they please. Blattman shares his research and cautious optimism about giving cash and discusses how infusions of cash affect growth, educational outcomes, and political behavior (including violence). The conversation concludes with a discussion of the limits of aid and the some of the moral issues facing aid activists and researchers.

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A Chance to Write for EconTalk!

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In this week's episode, Roberts talks "The Tyranny of Experts" with guest William Easterly.

For this week's Extra, we thought we'd change things up a bit...

Choose one of the four questions (below the fold) and compose an answer of 600 words or less. Send it to mail@econtalk.org by midnight Sunday June 22. Put "Easterly Essay" in the subject line. Selected entries chosen by Roberts will be posted the following week on EconTalk.org, and the authors will receive a complimentary Liberty Fund book.

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Podcast episode William Easterly on the Tyranny of Experts

EconTalk Episode with William Easterly
Hosted by Russ Roberts

William Easterly of New York University and author of The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book. Easterly argues that poverty endures in many poor countries because of a lack of economic and political freedom for its poorest members. He argues that the aid process and the role experts play in that process reinforces the oppression of the poor. Other topics discussed include data-oriented solutions, autocracy vs. democracy, and Easterly's perspective on development from Bill Gates and recent EconTalk guest Jeffery Sachs.

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Postmortem on Sachs Episode

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts

After the Nina Munk episode, I considered inviting Jeffrey Sachs to respond. But I decided against it--he has plenty of outlets to get himself heard and I didn't think an episode devoted to responding to another episode would be very interesting.

But shortly after the Munk episode, Sachs contacted me and asked if he could appear on the program. Despite my earlier decision, the fact that he asked made it hard for me to say no. My only condition was that he agree to discuss the Millennium Villages Project more generally. Along the way, I would ask him about the Munk episode and give him a chance to respond.

It ended up being a very challenging and rewarding interview as you can tell if you've listened. And the Munk episode came up early and often. Not my plan but that's the way these things work.

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We're loving your responses so far! Let's keep the conversation going...Just a friendly reminder, for general comments on a particular episode, the best landing spot is still the original post (here in the case of Sachs). And for those of you commenting for the first time, you might want to check out Econlib's general comment policy.

In this "Extra," we're encouraging you to go a bit deeper with the ideas raised in the Sachs, episode as well as the Munk episode...So here are some new questions. Share your responses below, or let us know how you're using EconTalk Extras to start your own conversations offline.


1. One of Munk's most pointed criticisms of the MVP projects' sustainability is that they fail to create long-term opportunities for employment. Why does she believe the project fails to accomplish this? How does Sachs respond to this criticism? What evidence might settle their disagreement?

2. Sachs suggests Munk's story about villages attempts at growing and selling maize is an "urban legend." What did Munk find so troubling in this story? What does Sachs appreciate in Munk's recounting, and how does he respond to the elements with which he takes issue?

3. Roberts seems unconvinced of the effectiveness of what he calls a "top-down" approach. But does he have an alternative way to help poor people in Africa? How might someone who agrees with Roberts answer that challenge?


   

Hello! I'm Amy Willis, and I'm a Fellow at Liberty Fund, the host of the Library of Economics and Liberty, and I work with Russ and the other fine folks at Econlib.

As Russ mentioned, we want to provide more opportunities for you to engage with our content, each other, us, and people we've yet to know. To that end, here are some questions for your consideration based on this week's episode with Jeffrey Sachs. We'd love it if you posted your responses in the comments, shared them on social media, used them in your classroom, used them to spark a conversation at the dinner table...well, you get the idea. We can't wait to hear from you!


1. What are the goals the MVP project aspires to, and what does Sachs believe makes them different from other programs aimed at alleviating poverty?To what extent does Sachs convince you that this strategy will be more effective than its predecessors?

2. Roberts cites a Lancet article that raised questions about the effectiveness of the MVP programs. What was the basis of the criticism, and how does Sachs counter?

3. Roberts questions whether smaller, more narrowly targeted programs might be more effective for given problems (such as malaria) than Sachs' approach. Why does Roberts suggest such efforts might be more successful, and to what extent do you agree?

4. Throughout, Roberts argues that top-down approaches to aid are less desirable. Yet he and Sachs seem to disagree regarding what exactly constitutes a top-down approach, and whether the MVP initiatives would qualify as such. In particular, Russ challenges Sachs on the initiative which introduced maize (also discussed in the Nina Munk episode). Sachs replies that, "You could have said the same thing...about malaria nets." What does he mean by this, and to what extent do you agree with Sachs?


   

Podcast episode Jeffrey Sachs on the Millennium Villages Project

EconTalk Episode with Jeffrey Sachs
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University and the Millennium Villages Project talks with EconTalk host about poverty in Africa and the efforts of the Millennium Villages Project to fight hunger, disease, and illiteracy. The project tries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in a set of poor African villages using an integrated strategy fighting hunger, poverty, and disease. In this lively conversation, Sachs argues that this approach has achieved great success so far and responds to criticisms from development economists and Nina Munk in her recent EconTalk interview.

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Podcast episode Nina Munk on Poverty, Development, and the Idealist

EconTalk Episode with Nina Munk
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nina Munk, journalist and author of The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book. Munk spent six years following Jeffrey Sachs and the evolution of the Millennium Villages Project--an attempt to jumpstart a set of African villages in hopes of discovering a new template for development. Munk details the great optimism at the beginning of the project and the discouraging results after six years of high levels of aid. Sach's story is one of the great lessons in unintended consequences and the complexity of the development process.

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Podcast episode Doug Lemov on Teaching

EconTalk Episode with Doug Lemov
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Doug Lemov of Uncommon Schools and author of Teach Like a Champion talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about teaching and education. Drawing on his experience working in charter schools with children in poverty, Lemov discusses what makes a great teacher and a great school. Lemov argues that practice and technique can transform teaching and education. The conversation concludes with a discussion of how EconTalk might be made more valuable to its listeners.

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Podcast episode Lant Pritchett on Education in Poor Countries

EconTalk Episode with Lant Pritchett
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Lant Pritchett of Harvard University and author of The Rebirth of Education talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. Pritchett argues that increases in years of schooling for students in poor countries do not translate into gains in education, learning, or achievement. This tragic situation is due to corruption and poor incentives in the top-down educational systems around the world. School reforms that imitate successful systems fail to take into account the organic nature of successful school systems that cause various external attributes to be effective. The conversation concludes with a discussion of school systems in rich countries and possible lessons for reform that might apply there.

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Podcast episode Deaton on Health, Wealth, and Poverty

EconTalk Episode with Angus Deaton
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Angus Deaton of Princeton University and author of the Great Escape talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book--the vast improvements in health and standard of living in recent times. Deaton surveys the improvements in life expectancy and income both in the developed and undeveloped world. Inequality of both health and wealth are discussed as well. The conversation closes with a discussion of foreign aid and what rich nations can do for the poor.

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Podcast episode Bhagwati on India

EconTalk Episode with Jagdish Bhagwati
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Jagdish Bhagwati of Columbia University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economy of India based on his book with Arvind Panagariya, Why Growth Matters. Bhagwati argues that the economic reforms of 1991 ushered in a new era of growth for India that has reduced poverty and improved the overall standard of living in India. While supportive of social spending on the poor, Bhagwati argues that growth should precede higher levels of spending, providing the tax revenue for expanded spending.

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Podcast episode Weingast on the Violence Trap

EconTalk Episode with Barry Weingast
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Barry Weingast, the Ward C. Krebs Family Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and a Senior Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role of violence and the threat of violence in maintaining destructive economic policies that reduce growth and development. Weingast argues that the threat of violence encourages leaders to create monopolies and other unproductive policies to pay off special interests that would otherwise threaten a coup or revolution. Weingast shows there is a surprising amount of violent regime change in modern times and discusses how this discourages growth-enhancing economic policies. The conversation closes with an analysis of similar ideas in Book III of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

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Podcast episode Narlikar on Fair Trade and Free Trade

EconTalk Episode with Amrita Narlikar
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Amrita Narlikar of the University of Cambridge talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about fair trade and policy issues related to trade. Narlikar argues--based on a recent article with Dan Kim--that the Fair Trade movement hurts workers outside of the fair trade umbrella and does little for those it is trying to help. She advocates free trade, particularly the elimination of agricultural subsidies in the developed world and the best way to help workers in poor nations. Drawing on a recent article with Jagdish Bhagwati, she criticizes the international response to recent deaths in Bangladesh factories. In the last part of the conversation, she defends the World Trade Organization.

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Podcast episode Clemens on Aid, Migration, and Poverty

EconTalk Episode with Michael Clemens
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Michael Clemens of the Center for Global Development talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the effects of aid and migration on world poverty. Clemens argues that the effects of aid are positive but small. But emigration has the potential to have a transformative effect on migrants from poor countries who emigrate to richer ones. The discussion concludes with the impact of migrants on the host country.

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Podcast episode Jerven on Measuring African Poverty and Progress

EconTalk Episode with Morten Jerven
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Morten Jerven of Simon Fraser University, author of Poor Numbers, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the quality of data coming out of Africa on income, growth, and population. Jerven argues that the inconsistency of the numbers and methodology both across countries and within a country across time, makes many empirical studies of African progress meaningless. The conversation closes with a discussion of what might be done to improve data collection in poor countries.

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Podcast episode Pettit on the Prison Population, Survey Data and African-American Progress

EconTalk Episode with Becky Pettit
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Becky Pettit of the University of Washington and author of Invisible Men talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the growth of the prison population in the United States in recent decades. Pettit describes the magnitude of the increase particularly among demographic groups. She then discusses the implications of this increase for interpreting social statistics. Because the prison population isn't included in the main government surveys used by social scientists, data drawn from those surveys can be misleading as to what is actually happening among demographic groups, particularly the African-American population.

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Podcast episode Paul Tough on How Children Succeed

EconTalk Episode with Paul Tough
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why children succeed and fail in school and beyond school. He argues that conscientiousness--a mixture of self-control and determination--can be a more important measure of academic and professional success than cognitive ability. He also discusses innovative techniques that schools, individuals, and non-profits are using to inspire young people in distressed neighborhoods. The conversation closes with the implications for public policy in fighting poverty.

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Podcast episode Acemoglu on Why Nations Fail

EconTalk Episode with Daron Acemoglu
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Daron Acemoglu of MIT and author (with James Robinson) of Why Nations Fail talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book: why some nations fail and others succeed, why some nations grow over time and sustain that growth, while others grow and then stagnate.  Acemoglu draws on an exceptionally rich set of examples over space and time to argue that differences in institutions--political governance and the inclusiveness of the political and economic system--explain the differences in economics success across nations and over time. Acemoglu also discusses how institutions evolve and the critical role institutional change plays in economic success or failure. Along the way, he explains why previous explanations for national economic success are inadequate. The conversation closes with a discussion of the implications of the arguments for foreign aid and attempts by the wealthy nations to help nations that are poor.

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Podcast episode David Rose on the Moral Foundations of Economic Behavior

EconTalk Episode with David Rose
Hosted by Russ Roberts

David Rose of the University of Missouri, St. Louis and the author of The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book and the role morality plays in prosperity. Rose argues that morality plays a crucial role in prosperity and economic development. Knowing that the people you trade with have a principled aversion to exploiting opportunities for cheating in dealing with others allows economic actors to trust one another. That in turn allows for the widespread specialization and interaction through markets with strangers that creates prosperity. In this conversation, Rose explores the nature of the principles that work best to engender trust. The conversation closes with a discussion of the current trend in morality in America and the implications for trust and prosperity.

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Podcast episode Bruce Meyer on the Middle Class, Poverty, and Inequality

EconTalk Episode with Bruce Meyer
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Bruce Meyer of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the middle class, poverty, and inequality. Many economists and pundits argue that the middle class has made little or no economic progress over the last 30 years, that poverty rates are stagnant or rising, and that inequality has increased dramatically. Meyer, drawing on his research over the last ten years, argues that these conclusions are either false or misleading. He argues that standard measures of economic progress and inequality are based on faulty inflation data or a misplaced focus on pre-tax income instead of post-tax income or consumption.

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Podcast episode Banerjee on Poverty and Poor Economics

EconTalk Episode with Abhijit Banerjee
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Abhijit Banerjee of MIT talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Banerjee's book (co-authored with Esther Duflo), Poor Economics. The conversation begins with how randomized control trials (a particular kind of social experiment) have been used to measure the effectiveness of various types of aid to the poor. Banerjee goes on to discuss hunger, health, and education--the challenges in each area and what we have learned about what works and what does not. The conversation closes with a discussion of the role of the labor market in the private sector.

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Podcast episode Munger on Microfinance, Savings, and Poverty

EconTalk Episode with Mike Munger
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Mike Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about microfinance. Munger argues that cultural forces make it difficult for some families to save, and the main value of microfinance is to allow a higher level of savings. Families are willing to save via microfinance even though returns can be negative. Munger argues that this counterintuitive result is possible when other means of savings are unavailable. Munger also discusses microfinance that is used for entrepreneurship and the potential role for microfinance in development.

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Podcast episode Rodrik on Globalization, Development, and Employment

EconTalk Episode with Dani Rodrik
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Dani Rodrik of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about trade, the labor market, and trade policy. Drawing on a recent paper with Margaret McMillan on trade and productivity, Rodrik argues that countries have very differing abilities to respond to increases in productivity that allow production to expand using fewer workers in a particular sector. When workers are displaced by productivity increases, what is their next best alternative? Rodrik discusses how this varies across countries and policies that might improve matters. He argues that poor countries should subsidize new products as a way of overcoming uncertainty and externalities from new ventures.

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Podcast episode Townsend on Development, Poverty, and Financial Institutions

EconTalk Episode with Robert Townsend
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Robert Townsend of MIT and the Consortium on Financial Systems and Poverty talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about development and the role of financial institutions in growth. Drawing on his research, particularly his surveys of households in Thailand, Townsend argues that both informal networks and arrangements and formal financial institutions play important roles in dealing with risk. Along the way, he discusses the role of microfinance in poor countries and the potential for better financial arrangements to lead to higher growth and the accumulation of wealth.

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Podcast episode Romer on Charter Cities

EconTalk Episode with Paul Romer
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Paul Romer of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about charter cities, Romer's idea for helping the poorest of the poor around the world. Romer envisions a city where the rules about property and safety and contract and so on are rules that allow individuals to flourish in an urban setting in contrast to the cities they live in now where so many aspects of economic and personal life are dysfunctional. Charter cities would be havens for the world's poor and could be created on uninhabited land in either rich or poor countries. This concept raises many difficult practical questions--some of them are discussed here along with how Romer came to be interested in creating the concept and how he hopes to bring it to reality.

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Podcast episode Newman on Low-wage Workers

EconTalk Episode with Katherine Newman
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Katherine Newman, Professor of Sociology at Princeton University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Newman's case studies of fast-food workers in Harlem. Newman discusses the evolution of their careers and fortunes over time along with their dreams and successes and failures. The conversation concludes with lessons for public policy in aiding low-wage workers.

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Podcast episode Roberts on Smith, Ricardo, and Trade

EconTalk Episode with Russ Roberts
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Russ Roberts, host of EconTalk, does a monologue this week on the economics of trade and specialization. Economists have focused on David Ricardo's idea of comparative advantage as the source of specialization and wealth creation from trade. Drawing on Adam Smith and the work of James Buchanan, Yong Yoon, and Paul Romer, Roberts argues that we've neglected the role of the size of the market in creating incentives for specialization and wealth creation via trade. Simply put, the more people we trade with, the greater the opportunity to specialize and innovate, even when people are identical. The Ricardian insight masks the power of market size in driving innovation and the transformation of our standard of living over the last few centuries in the developed world.

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Podcast episode Kling on Prosperity, Poverty, and Economics 2.0

EconTalk Episode with Arnold Kling
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Arnold Kling of EconLog and the author (with Nick Schulz) of From Poverty to Prosperity: Intangible Assets, Hidden Liabilities and the Lasting Triumph over Scarcity talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Kling discusses how modern economists think about growth in both developed and undeveloped countries and contrasts those ideas with earlier views in economics. The focus of the modern understanding is on ideas and the ability of ideas to improve technology, leading to prosperity. Unlike physical capital, ideas can be enjoyed by many people at once, explaining why past models that ignored ideas and focused on physical capital failed to account for the observed magnitude of economic development. Kling also discusses the success of China and India.

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Podcast episode Boettke on Elinor Ostrom, Vincent Ostrom, and the Bloomington School

EconTalk Episode with Pete Boettke
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Peter Boettke of George Mason University and author of Challenging Institutional Analysis and Development: The Bloomington School (co-authored with Paul Dragos Aligica), talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Bloomington School--the political economy of Elinor Ostrom (2009 Nobel Laureate in Economics), Vincent Ostrom, and their students and colleagues at Indiana University. The discussion begins with the empirical approach of Elinor Ostrom and others who have studied the myriad of ways that actual communities have avoided the tragedy of commons. Boettke emphasizes the distinction between privatization vs. informal norms and cultural rules that prevent overuse. The conversation also looks at urban development and the benefits and costs of multiple municipalities vs. a single, large city. Throughout, Boettke embeds the conversation in the Ostroms' interest in how the citizenry can be self-governing and the challenges of implementing local knowledge.

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Podcast episode Peter Henry on Growth, Development, and Policy

EconTalk Episode with Peter Henry
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Peter Blair Henry of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about economic development. Henry compares and contrasts the policy and growth experience of Barbados and Jamaica. Both became independent of England in the 1960s, so both inherited similar institutions. But each pursued different policies with very different results. Henry discusses the implications of this near-natural experiment for growth generally and the importance of macroeconomic policy for achieving prosperity. The conversation closes with a discussion of Henry's research on stock market reactions as a measure of policy's effectiveness.

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Podcast episode Srour on Education, African Schools, and Building Tomorrow

EconTalk Episode with George Srour
Hosted by Russ Roberts

George Srour, founder of Building Tomorrow, a non-profit that builds schools in Uganda, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his experience starting, funding, and running an organization that tries to change the world one school at a time. Srour discusses how he tries to make sure that his organization accomplishes more than bricks and mortar and the rewards and challenges of a start-up non-profit.

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Podcast episode Sowell on Economic Facts and Fallacies

EconTalk Episode with Thomas Sowell
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Thomas Sowell of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his new book, Economic Facts and Fallacies. He discusses the misleading nature of measured income inequality, CEO pay, why nations grow or stay poor, the role of intellectuals and experts in designing public policy, and immigration.

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Podcast episode Easterly on Growth, Poverty, and Aid

EconTalk Episode with William Easterly
Hosted by Russ Roberts

William Easterly of NYU talks about why some nations escape poverty while others do not, why aid almost always fails to create growth, and what can realistically be done to help the poorest people in the world.

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Podcast episode Collier on the Bottom Billion

EconTalk Episode with Paul Collier
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Paul Collier of Oxford University talks about the ideas in his recent book, The Bottom Billion, an analysis of why the poorest countries in the world fail to grow. He talks about conflict, natural resources, being landlocked, and bad governance, four factors he identifies as causes of the desperate poverty and stagnation in the countries where 1/6 of the world's poorest peoples live.

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Podcast episode Karol Boudreaux on Property Rights and Incentives in Africa

EconTalk Episode with Karol Boudreaux
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Karol Boudreaux, Senior Research Fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her field work and research in Rwanda and South Africa. In Rwanda, she studied how a change in incentives and property rights for coffee farmers has allowed the coffee bean growers to improve quality and prosper. In South Africa's Langa Township, she looked at how renters were allowed to become homeowners and how the ability to own changed their lives.

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Podcast episode Romer on Growth

EconTalk Episode with Paul Romer
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Paul RomerPaul Romer, Stanford University professor and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about growth, China, innovation, and the role of human capital. Also discussed are ideas in creating growth, the idea that ideas allow for increasing returns, and intellectual property and how it should be treated. This 75 minute podcast is a wonderful introduction to thinking about what creates and sustains our standard of living in the modern world.

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