Can We Blame Global Poverty on Pessimism?

MIT economist Esther Duflo has documented how anti-poverty programs create an economic benefit larger than the sum of their parts. She says the margin represents the yield of hope's seeds. 

What's the Latest Development?


Living in poverty exacts a big mental tole but new research indicates that the positive effects of anti-poverty programs often go beyond their immediate material consequences. When MIT economist Esther Duflo investigated a micro-finance operation in the Indian state of West Bengal, she found that giving families "small productive assets"--a cow, a couple of goats or some chickens--benefited them beyond the milk, meat or eggs they could sell as a result. It turns out that recipients were working 28% more hours than before, mostly on projects unrelated to the assets they were given. 

What's the Big Idea?

Duflo believes that micro-financing and other anti-poverty programs provide hope to the impoverished, which turns out to be a very powerful thing. The mental anguish of poverty leads many to believe they are stuck in a poverty trap when they are not. Because prosperity seems an impossibly distant goal to the impoverished, they often forgo incremental improvements they are capable of making: "a bit more fertiliser, some more schooling or a small amount of saving." But when these incremental changes yield tangible dividends, families and individuals are encouraged to make more and more...

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Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
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22 months of war - condensed in a 1-minute video

No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap

Strange Maps
  • The War in Syria has dropped off the radar, but it's not over (yet)
  • This 1-minute video shows how the fronts have moved – and stabilised – over the past 22 months
  • Watching this video may leave you both better informed, and slightly queasy: does war need a generic rock soundtrack?
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Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

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How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.

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  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
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