Continuing Conversation... Chris Blattman on Cash, Poverty, and Development
By Amy Willis
Roberts returns to the topic of development this week in his conversation with Columbia’s Chris Blattman, advocate of a radical approach to fighting poverty.
Use the prompts below to start your own offline conversation.
Check Your Knowledge:
1. Blattman emphasizes the importance of regular cash transfers, as opposed to one-time grants. What particular obstacle does he believe this will overcome, and to what extent do you agree with him?
2. Blattman asserts that despite their promise, cash transfers are still only a “band-aid” solution. What does he mean by this, and what else does he argue is needed before development can really take off?
3. Roberts admits that he gives money to poor people even if they are going to spend it on drugs and alcohol. Use the economic way of thinking to either defend or argue Russ’ penchant for doing so.
4. Roberts and Blattman briefly discuss Mexico’s Opportunidades program, which features conditional cash transfers. How does this program compare to Blattman’s recommendations? Which has the potential for more long-run efficacy, and why?
5. In 2011, Roberts discussed microfinance with Mike Munger. Contrast Munger’s more positive spin to Blattman’s. What are the most compelling arguments offered by each? To what extent can microfinance improve this lives of the world’ poor today and into the future?