The Financial Diaries book was published in 2017, building on 5 years of fieldwork and analysis led with Rachel Schneider and carried out with Tim Ogden and a great research team. The book gives a new view of economic insecurity and poverty in America, drawing on the stories of families across the country and detailed evidence on their financial lives. The University of Manchester’s Diane Coyle named it one of the best economics books of 2017, and the book received a 2018 Axiom Best Business Book Silver Award.
The 2nd edition of Economics, an intro textbook (micro + macro) written with Dean Karlan, came out in February 2017. The book starts with real-world problems and shows how economists think about them (and can help to solve them).
2018 projects related to risk, poverty, spending, and markets:
- September update: Poverty and migration in the digital age: Experimental evidence on mobile banking in Bangladesh (with Jean Lee, Saravana Ravindran, Abu Shonchoy, and Hassan Zaman). As migration pulls families part, digital money can bring them closer together – with benefits and costs. An RCT in paired samples.
- August: Paying in Pieces: A natural experiment on consumer demand under different payment schemes (with Jonathan Bauchet). A natural experiment on insurance demand at Mexico’s largest microlender; a demonstration of how demand depends strongly on the mode of payment not just on price – with implications for the spread of merit goods.
- September: “Social Investment Through the Lens of Microfinance.” Microfinance serves as a lab for understanding social business and social investment. What we learned & need to learn. [In progress.]
- September: “The Disruptive Power of RCTs.” A view from the seminar room. Today’s criticisms of RCTs too often lose sight of the struggles in the earlier micro-econometric literature, especially around concerns with heterogeneous treatment effects. Important questions went unasked (or poorly answered) until RCTs made (incremental) progress possible. [In progress.]
- April: Earning to Give: Occupational Choice for Effective Altruists (with Ariane Szafarz). Should an altruist give time, money, or both? A theoretical analysis of occupational choice showing the paradox of warm glow in the context of effective altruism.
- Slow thinking (& some slow writing): Global microfinance (with Bob Cull) and financial inclusion (with Tim Ogden). (Also: Microfinance as a Credit Card?).
- In progress: Wealth inequality, income volatility, and race in the US (with Darrick Hamilton, Bradley Hardy, and Sandy Darity).
Selected recent work, 2015-2018
Jonathan Morduch and Rachel Schneider, The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty (Princeton 2017)
Dean Karlan and Jonathan Morduch. Economics, 2nd edition. McGraw-Hill/Irwin, February 2017.
Jonathan Morduch. “Economics and the Social Meaning of Money,” chapter 1 in Nina Bandelj, Frederick F. Wherry and Viviana Zelizer, eds., Money Talks: Explaining How Money Really Works. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 2017.
Jonathan Morduch and Julie Siwicki. 2017. “In and Out of Poverty: Poverty spells and income volatility in the U.S. Financial Diaries.” Social Service Review 91 (3): September 2017: 390-421.
Robert Cull, Jonathan Morduch, and Asli Demirgüç-Kunt. “The Microfinance Business Model: Enduring Subsidy and Modest Profit.” World Bank Policy Research Working Paper WPS7786, July 2016. Blog post. Forthcoming, World Bank Economic Review.
Jonathan Bauchet, Jonathan Morduch, and Shamika Ravi. “Failure vs Displacement: Why an innovative anti-poverty program showed no net impact in South India.” Journal of Development Economics 116, September 2015: 1-16.