Poor Economics

In the past few months, I have been following an online course in edX called The Challenges of Global Poverty.


When the course started, I received a reminder email about it, but I can’t seem to remember why I signed up for it. Only when I started the course that I realize, it was during the 2019 Nobel laureate season that I most likely signed up for this course: the two lecturers of this course were the laureates of 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics (umm, technically “Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences“), and that edX has shared this course in their Twitter:

But still, why on earth did I take this course? I don’t know, perhaps, I would like to try to experience how it feels being taught by lecturers who won Nobel prize!?

After I started this course, I actually find out that this course is part of MIT’s Micro Masters program, which means that, if I pass this online course, pay the fee (which depends on the household income), and pass an in-person exam, it may contribute for the fulfillment of a real master degree from MIT.


I would say that the course is quite intense. The course description says that it would take up around 12-14 hours per week, which is a lot! But in reality, I think, I spent around 4 hours per week for lectures (1.5x speed), another hour for the homework, and another two for reading.

This is also the first course that I read the recommended readings before I started on the lectures! (I admit that during my uni days, I never read any readings before I went to lectures) There are various readings, but the main one is authored by the lecturers, called Poor Economics. It’s actually a really good companion: after reading it, on the lectures, you can actually think further on what the lecturer’s bring.


The content of this course largely follows the book Poor Economics. This book and therefore this course, do not give out the big answer of how to solve global poverty. Instead, they focus into the the micro aspects of the people who lives in poverty and see how some policies will affect their lives positively or negatively. The aspects include: Food, Health, Education, Family, Risk & Insurance, Credit, Savings, Entrepreneurship, and Institutions. These aspects also form the content of the book and the course. They ended the content with a note that poverty will always be there as long as there are difference in income, but we do can eradicate extreme poverty. It may take a lot of work and a lot of time, and we’re just getting started.


Finally, I would also like to share my notes that I took while reading the book and taking the course. It is available from my Resources page or directly at this link.

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