On April 29, co-founder of J-PAL (Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab) and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Abhijit Banerjee, spoke at UCT’s virtual Vice-Chancellor’s Open Lecture about his book Good Economics for Hard Times, co-authored with Nobel laureate and J-PAL co-founder, Esther Duflo. During this lecture he discussed how economics can be harnessed for the common good to tackle today’s global challenges, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the key lessons shared during the lecture was that we need to start providing comprehensive social protection. “Making the poor less poor does not make them lazy or dependent, it just makes them happier and better able to function in life”, stated Prof. Banerjee.
Secondly, the pandemic reminds us how important governments are in times like these. Especially when it comes to global issues such as climate change, we need strong public policies.
Finally, according to Prof. Banerjee, there is a need for greater international solidarity: “The narrative of this pandemic in which rich countries have decided that the lives of their citizens are more important [..] than the rest of the world must change. [We need to] move forward in a world where we are all contributing to a shared destiny”.