Poor Economics – Hannah Scott

Post # 3 – Week 4

As expressed in previous post about Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries are Leading the Way by Steven Radelet, we discussed the controversy on the aid and poverty in Africa. In later chapters we are introduced to two generation “Hippo” and “Cheetah”. Starting with the cheetahs, they bring fresh ideas to the table in the business setting and government. There are 5 cheetah generation standouts; ideas, technology, entrepreneurship, market power, and the push for good governance and accountability. The cheetah generation is self relevant and they are self starters, they are bringing new ideas to business and government “…a nebulous yet palpable group across the continent that is seeking to redefine Africa through democracy, transparency, and a dynamic private sector, and by fostering strong connections with each other and the rest of the world” (Radelet, 2010) This generation is not defined like the typical generation would be, there are all different ages. Some of the members are old and some of them are young, they live mostly in urban areas however some can be found in smaller towns and villages. What qualifies them in the “cheetah” generation is their motivation to move their countries in the right direction. On the opposite end of the “cheetah” generation is the “hippo” generation. The “Hippo” generation is the slow moving and old. “…Ayittey sees as stuck in the past complaining about colonialism and imperialism…” (Radelet, 2010) They are also another emerging class as entrepreneurs they are more fixated on developing Africa as unique, by giving attention to accountability, basic human rights, transparency, and good governance. While both generations are focused on different topics they are brining positivity and hope to Africa in many ways.


After reading chapters one and two of Poor Economics by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo addresses many issues of poverty and aid. One the things that stood out to me in chapter two was “Poverty Trap: The poor get poorer, and the rich get richer and eat even better, and get stronger and even richer and the gap keeps increasing” (Banerjee & Dufflo, 2011) Millennium Development Goal (MDG) is driven to reduce poverty and hunger around the world. They define the poor as someone who doesn’t have enough money to eat and doesn’t eat enough. The government then thinks that in order to help the poor they need to send over food. The governments mindset is the quaintly of the food is what matters, however is that really helping? In Orissa “…the poor are entitled to 55 pounds of rice per month at about 1 rupee per pound, less than 20 percent of the market price” (Banerjee & Dufflo, 2011) Right now the Indian parliament is trying to pass an act where people who are starving would be allowed to sue the government, they are calling this movement the Right to Food Act. Another problem that comes along with shipping food is the logistics. “In India, it is estimated that more than one-half of the wheat and over one-third of the rice gets “lost” along the way, including a good fraction that gets eaten by rats” (Banerjee & Dufflo, 2011) When you don’t eat, you don’t have the energy or nutrition, when you don’t have energy you can’t better yourself. For example you work to make money, you can’t work when you have ant energy. It’s a vicious cycle. In the book we are introduced to the S shaped curve this is based on physiological mechanism where if all the poor needed to do was eat more to get stronger then they could do work that was meaningful, they would make enough money to bring themselves out of poverty then why don’t they just eat more. When you look at the poor community as a whole they don’t seem to be starving with their low income they are buying food, however it not necessary the right food. They are buying food that taste better rather then food with the right calories. While they don’t have much to spend on food they still have to buy items like clothing and health items. While some spend their money on alcohol and Tabaco. Feeling richer is driving them to buy more of the “bad” calories “…getting more calories was not a priority: Getting better tasting ones was.” (Banerjee & Dufflo, 2011) I think we should rethink the food policy for many reasons, the effort is there but the execution is not. We are doing the minimal because it is hard to do the maximum, with the logistics. There is also a huge problem with education, which is in the circle of not knowing what to buy when they do have the little amount of they have to spend.




Back in the mid sixteenth century when witch hunting was prevalent, the idea behind it was when things got scarce the “witches” typically widowed woman would go out and kill the weaker to make themselves stronger. “The pressure of just getting enough food to survive seems to have driven some people to take rather extreme steps” (Banerjee & Dufflo, 2011) During the drought in Tanzania many were faced to go witch hunt while times were tight to make it better for themselves


The country that I was assigned to was Burkina Faso and to report the progress of the SGD’s along with economical and political situation in the country. Looking at the GDP’s on World Bank Data I found that starting in the year 2000 the GDP was 2.2629 billion and in the year 2015 the GDP was 10.678 in the 15 years that was a significant increase. The population had also increased 7 million between 2000-2015. Burkina Faso is a land lock country that has to be dependent on the rainfall, which affects their crops of gold, livestock, and cotton. GDP per capita (PPP) in 2016 was $1,800 the GINI index- distribution of family income in (2007) was 39.5. Burkina Faso has made significant increases from where they were in past years.




Banerjee, A. & Duflo, E. (2011).  Poor Economics.

Radelet, S. (2010).  Emerging Africa

The World Factbook: BURKINA FASO. (2017, January 12). Retrieved February 07, 2017, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/uv.html


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