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Nobel Prize in Economics in 2019

One ‘Bengali’, two others awarded for work on poverty

October 15, 2019 00:00:00

Abhijit Banerjee (L), Esther Duflo (R)

STOCKHOLM, Oct 14 (AFP): A trio of American economists on Monday won the Nobel Economics Prize for their work in the fight against poverty, including novel initiatives in education and healthcare, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

Indian-born Abhijit Banerjee of the US, his French-American wife Esther Duflo -- a former advisor to ex-US president Barack Obama -- and Michael Kremer of the US were honoured "for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty," the jury said.

According to Wikipedia, Abhijit Binayak Banerjee is an Indian American economist of Bengali heritage.

Michael Kremer

Banerjee was born in Dhule, India, to Nirmala Banerjee, a professor of economics at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata , and Dipak Banerjee, a professor and the head of the Department of Economics at Presidency College, Kolkata.

The science academy said that "more than 700 million people still subsist on extremely low incomes," and that around five million children under the age of five still die every year from preventable or curable diseases.

"This year's laureates have introduced a new approach to obtaining reliable answers about the best ways to fight global poverty," the jury said.

The three found efficient ways of combatting poverty by breaking down difficult issues into smaller, more manageable questions, which can then be answered through field experiments, the jury said.

"They have shown that these smaller, more precise, questions are often best answered via carefully designed experiments among the people who are most affected," it said.

"As a direct result of one of their studies, more than five million Indian children have benefitted from effective programmes of remedial tutoring in schools. Another example is the heavy subsidies for preventive healthcare that have been introduced in many countries," the jury said.

Duflo is only the second woman to win the Nobel Economics Prize in its 50-year existence, following Elinor Ostrom in 2009.

Duflo, 46, who is also the youngest person to ever receive the Economics Prize, told the Nobel committee in a phone interview the honour was "incredibly humbling".

"I didn't think it was possible to win the Nobel Prize in Economics before being significantly older than any of the three of us," she added.

Duflo has made her name conducting research, together with her husband who was her PhD supervisor, on poor communities in India and Africa, seeking to weigh the impact of policies such as incentivising teachers to show up for work or measures to empower women.

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