About the author



Matt Berkley lives in Oxford, England.   


He was educated in classics (Greek and Roman literature, ancient history and philosophy). 


In 1983 he went to live in Bangladesh for sixteen months to try and understand why people were poor.    


He has worked in the mental health industry in the UK, and took a postgraduate degree in experimental psychology in 1990.   In a research project on people with mental health problems in the community he found that mortality rates were neglected as outcome measures.    This may have been the reason why he took a different approach to economics. 


In 2000 he read “Growth is Good for the Poor”, a document from the World Bank.    The strange logic of this document, and the strange logic of reducing the proportion of deprived people as a way of helping them, prompted him to try and get an overview of what was going on in development economics.     There were clearly several large flaws in economists’ analyses of poverty trends.    It was with some surprise that he realised that economists making claims about welfare gains to poor people did not follow real people at all, but used cross-sectional statistics (data on people alive at the time).     He attempted to raise the mortality issue with leading academics and senior officials beginning in 2000.  


In 2003 he finally understood a major piece of the puzzle:   economists’ claims about what has benefited poor people have not only ignored survival as a welfare outcome but also failed to take account of changes in the price of food.     If you don’t know how the price of food changed, you don’t know about changes in the cost of living.    If you don’t know the cost of living, then you can’t measure poverty.     Economics is in some ways complex.     In other ways, it is extremely simple.  



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