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Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day Hardcover – 10 May 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (10 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691141487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691141480
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 1.9 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,505,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"A fascinating discussion of the finances of the world's poor."--Nicholas Kristof,

"Ten years ago, the authors of this unusual study began collecting detailed yearlong 'financial diaries' from households in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa. . . . The diarists did things that might seem irrational--borrowing in order to save; paying interest on savings--but that made sense given their unpredictable incomes and limited options. While the authors do offer prescriptions for how to expand those options, it's their scrupulous attention to actual behavior that makes this book invaluable."--New Yorker

"The book's methodology and conclusions are fascinating."--Publishers Weekly

"The authors of Portfolios of the Poor found that a 'triple whammy' characterizes the financial lives of the poor. Incomes are not only low; they are also irregular and unpredictable. . . . The authors' account suggests much that can be done to ease the financial conditions of poor people."--Anirudh Krishna, Science

"A refreshingly distinct path. Portfolios of the Poor . . . avoid[s] the big picture and zoom[s] in on the basics of daily poverty, exploring how poor families manage their money. . . . The diaries reveal a 'real, ongoing, and substantial demand' for better financial services, which poor families need to provide better health care and schooling for their children. . . . Rather than waiting for the world to debate and accept their ideas, these authors have taken them up on their own. In the war against global poverty, that feels like one small battle won."--Carlos Lozada, Washington Post

"The research provides evidence of the sophistication with which poor people think about their finances."--The Economist

"I recommend this book to anyone who has interest in improving the lives of the poor."--Melinda Gates, Co-chair, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Huffington Post

"This is a very interesting book, which examines the quite sophisticated financial system developed by poor households to adjust their spending relative to their income."--Choice

"A masterly assessment of the financial needs of people on very low incomes . . . stuffed full of interesting and surprising insights, and should be read by anyone concerned with economic development and poverty reduction. I can't praise it highly enough. This is a model of the careful collection of evidence with important practical consequences."--Diane Coyle, The Enlightened Economist

"This book is a major contribution to the understanding of the situation of the poor in developing countries and should be a 'must reading' for both academics and policymakers concerned with ways of improving developmental policies."--Werner Baer, Enterprise and Society

From the Inside Flap

"A must-read book for social entrepreneurs combating global poverty. . . . Skip the latest road-to-riches screed about serving the bottom of the pyramid and throw out your white papers from the World Bank. . . . Portfolios of the Poor is your new bible."--Jonathan C. Lewis, I on Poverty

"Too often, conversations about the needs of the world's poor are based on assumptions and clichés. This important, carefully researched, and compelling book presents the facts about the poor and their relationship to finance."--Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist and The Logic of Life

"This is an important, boots-on-the-ground look at how microfinance functions in the developing world. The descriptions of how poor households manage their limited resources are exciting, raw, and novel, and I found myself unable to put the book down."--Edward Miguel, University of California, Berkeley and coauthor of Economic Gangsters

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Top customer reviews

23 July 2009
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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18 August 2016
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3 January 2011
Format: Paperback
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5 February 2013
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Most helpful customer reviews on 4.1 out of 5 stars 30 reviews
Mal Warwick
4.0 out of 5 starsUnderstanding the daily reality of global poverty
16 July 2012 - Published on
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4 people found this helpful.
Prisacaru Dan
5.0 out of 5 starsThoughtful, insightful and best of all - it debunks many misconceptions westerners have. A must read!,
23 February 2012 - Published on
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3 people found this helpful.
4.0 out of 5 starsGood book but has a lot of business jargon in ...
17 January 2016 - Published on
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
One person found this helpful.
4.0 out of 5 starsAcademic Look at Microfinance
12 September 2010 - Published on
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
4 people found this helpful.
Gerald Berch
5.0 out of 5 starsFive Stars
17 January 2017 - Published on
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase

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