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October 21, 2013

FAI Video: In Conversation with Dean Karlan

By Timothy Ogden

Part of our series, In Conversation with FAI

"What do you do with the households that are so poor that there is no real sustainable livelihood going on?" Professor Dean Karlan and FAI's Managing Director Timothy Ogden discuss some of the recent research into poverty alleviation programs targeting the ultra-poor; questions of internal validity versus external validity; and evaluating economic well-being as well as psychological well-being.

Excerpt from the Transcript

Timothy Ogden : So, Dean one of the innovations in microfinance is trying to figure out a way to reach further down the poverty ladder—with programs generally referred to it as graduation or targeting the ultra-poor.

Would you tell us something about what those programs are and the process of figuring out how they work?

Dean Karlan: Sure. So, the first thing I think that’s important to note is the broad scope of the goals. BRAC in Bangladesh is a micro-lender who was an early group thinking about these issues—but in a very simple way this really had absolutely nothing to do with microfinance. This is about how you help the ultra-poor build up a livelihood. It’s recognizing that micro-lending despite its rhetoric has never really reached those people and so it has never been a satisfactory tool not only in reaching them but also lifting them from poverty when it does reach them. But in a sense this really is an issue which has nothing to do with microfinance or the way we should be thinking about it.

We should be thinking about it as: what do you do with the households that are so poor that there is no real sustainable livelihood going on? 

READ THE WHOLE TRANSCRIPT Karlan_Ogden_Ultra-Poor_Transcript_2013_FNL.pdf

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