Esther Duflo, a French-American economist, who has won the Nobel in Economics jointly with her Indian-American husband Abhijit Banerjee and Harvard economist Michael Kremer on Monday, is the second woman and the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel in economic sciences. She is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is also the co-founder and co-director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab.
Duflo, 42, born 1972 in Paris, she has worked on various departments like that of health, education, financial inclusion, environment and governance.
She has a PhD in Economics from MIT, a Masters in Economics from DELTA in Paris and a Maitrise in history and economics from Ecole Normale Supérieure, also in Paris. In her research, she seeks to understand the economic lives of the poor, with the aim to help design and evaluate social policies.
She has received numerous academic honors and prizes including the Princess of Asturias Award for Social Sciences (2015), the A.SK Social Science Award (2015), Infosys Prize (2014), the David N Kershaw Award (2011), a John Bates Clark Medal (2010), and a MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship (2009).
Co-authored Poor Economics
Along with her husband Banerjee, she co-authored the book, Poor Economics, which won the Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award in 2011. 'Poor Economics' has been translated into more than 17 languages.
Duflo and Banerjee co-founded MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in 2003, along with a third co-founder, Sendhil Mullainathan, now of the University of Chicago. J-PAL is a global network of antipoverty researchers that conducts field experiments.
Duflo is also the Editor of the American Economic Review and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.
Nobel in Economic Sciences
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the work by the joint efforts of Duflo, Banerjee and Kremer had shown how poverty could be addressed by breaking it down into smaller and more precise questions in areas such as education and healthcare and then testing solutions in the field, reports Reuters. It said the results of their studies and field experiments had ranged from helping millions of Indian schoolchildren with remedial tutoring to encouraging governments around the world to increase funding for preventative medicine.
“It starts from the idea that the poor are often reduced to caricatures and even the people that try to help them do not actually understand what are the deep roots of (their) problems,” Duflo told reporters in Stockholm by telephone.
“What we try to do in our approach is to say, ‘Look, let’s try to unpack the problems one-by-one and address them as rigorously and scientifically as possible’,” she added.
Asked whether Duflo’s award was an attempt to redress the gender imbalance in the prize’s history, Peter Fredriksson, chairman of the Nobel Committee for Economic Sciences, said it showed that women were now more present in economics.
Duflo remarked that it came at an “extremely important and opportune time” for women in a sector that has traditionally been very male-dominated.
“We are at a time when we are starting to realize in the profession that the way that we (treat) each other privately and publicly is not conducive all the time for a very good environment for women,” she said.
With inputs from Reuters
Updated Date: Oct 15, 2019 09:38:44 IST