M.I.T.’s Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Harvard’s Michael Kremer spent the last 20 years helping to revolutionize the way researchers study and help the world’s poor. Their experimental approach toward poverty alleviation earned them the 2019 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Ms. Duflo, 46, is the youngest economics laureate ever and the second woman to win the distinction.
“It really reflects the fact that it has become a movement, a movement that is much larger than us,” Professor Duflo said.
The three researchers have taken a scientific approach to studying problems like education deficiencies and child health. They break issues into smaller questions, search for evidence about which interventions work to resolve them, and seek practical ways to bring those treatments to scale.
“In just two decades, their new experiment-based approach has transformed development economics, which is now a flourishing field of research,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement.
More than 5 million Indian children have benefited from effective remedial tutoring thanks to one of their studies, the release noted, while other work of theirs has inspired public investment in preventive health care.
In 2003 Ms. Duflo and Mr. Banerjee, co-founded a global network of poverty researchers called the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, or J-PAL. The coalition helps to identify effective interventions (i.e. deworming campaigns) and then works with governments and nongovernment organizations to implement them.