After reading the first three chapters of Poor Economics, I am throughly enjoying the book. I appreciate how the authors present both sides of problems by giving case studies and follows up by giving statistical information to allow the reader to make their own conclusion. What is unbelievable is the passion that the reader (or at least me) gets from the authors. While reading this book one can tell that both authors feel strongly about the subject matter. What I also like about this book is that it gives the numbers behind poverty. Personally, I’ve come across information such as, 1 in 5 children in South Asia and Saharan Africa die of diarrhea (p.42). I understand that is not a major statistic but I feel that many times these types of numbers are not presented to the public.
On page 26 the author states that the percentage of people who consider that they do not have enough food has dropped from 17% in 1983 to 2% in 2004. They introduce this statistic by giving background information on a 2,400 Philippines diet and, furthermore, stating that this information held consistent with evidence from an Indian survey. I believe they do use this statistic to support the basic thesis of the chapter; however, this statistic, in my mind is skewed. While I do believe that the world has more than enough food to adequately feed individuals caloric needs, there are many underlying factors that can inflate that statistic. For example, what is considered “having enough food”? The problem I have with this statistic is that their is no standardization nor definition of what people consider having enough food is. While governments and world food organizations can view this through strictly a caloric standard, people like Pak Sohlin are still jobless and poor.
Although this may seem far off I can compare this idea to the idea that many Americans see themselves as middle class. Many Americans make this judgment not based off actual statistics but rather through a comparasion to their surroundings. Essentially, people see that they have about the same amount as their neighboors and feel as if they are more well off than the next individual. People are hesitant to consider themselves “poor” although statistically, they may be. Do the poor consider that they have enough to eat because they are truly better off or is it an acceptance of the norm?