Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo have worked in India to improve benefit delivery of welfare programmes
GN Bureau | October 14, 2019
The Nobel Prize in economics for 2019 goes to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer "for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty."
The prize, known as “The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel”, was announced by the Nobel Foundation on Monday. Banerjee becomes the second Indian to win the economics prize, after fellow Bengali Amartya Sen.
Banerjee and Duflo teach at MIT, USA, while Kremer is with Harvard University.
The research conducted by this year’s Laureates has considerably improved our ability to fight global poverty, the Foundation said in a press release. “In just two decades, their new experiment-based approach has transformed development economics, which is now a flourishing field of research.”
Despite recent dramatic improvements, one of humanity’s most urgent issues is the reduction of global poverty, in all its forms. More than 700 million people still subsist on extremely low incomes. Every year, around five million children under the age of five still die of diseases that could often have been prevented or cured with inexpensive treatments. Half of the world’s children still leave school without basic literacy and numeracy skills.
This year’s Laureates have introduced a new approach to obtaining reliable answers about the best ways to fight global poverty. In brief, it involves dividing this issue into smaller, more manageable, questions – for example, the most effective interventions for improving educational outcomes or child health. They have shown that these smaller, more precise, questions are often best answered via carefully designed experiments among the people who are most affected.
In the mid-1990s, Kremer and his colleagues demonstrated how powerful this approach can be, using field experiments to test a range of interventions that could improve school results in western Kenya.
Banerjee and Duflo, often with Kremer, soon performed similar studies of other issues and in other countries. Their experimental research methods now entirely dominate development economics.
The Laureates’ research findings – and those of the researchers following in their footsteps – have dramatically improved our ability to fight poverty in practice. 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.
These are just two examples of how this new research has already helped to alleviate global poverty. It also has great potential to further improve the lives of the worst-off people around the world.
Banerjee and Duflo wrote about their work in ‘Poor Economics’ (Random House, 2011) and their next work, ‘Good Economics for Hard Times’ (Juggernaut) is coming out later this month. Earlier this year, Banerjee teamed up with other economists to produce a blueprint for Indian economy, ‘What the Economy Needs Now’ (Juggernaut). Governance Now reviewed it:
Back to the business of governance, with economy as top priority
The Indic Quotient: Reclaiming Heritage through Cultural Enterprise By Kaninika Mishra Bloomsbury India, 230 pages, Rs. 499 Over the past decade, India has seen a significant rise in passion for enterprise as well as pride in her
International observers will keenly watch the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee meeting next month. The central committee is the highest organ of the CCP with a mandate to execute the decision of the National Congress which is convened once every five years. Besides economy, r
News profession is organic in nature, requires responsibility and discipline, and there is no room for mistake. To maintain high standards of accuracy you need discipline and hygiene in the newsroom. Sudhir Chaudhary, editor in chief of Zee News, Zee Business and Wion, has said that a TRP-driven business m
When Dharmendra Pandey, a fruit-seller had to leave Mumbai after the imposition of the lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, and return to his village in Uttar Pradesh, he was staring at economic uncertainties ahead. Little did he know that his 16-year-old son, Mahavir, had acquired skills that would come
Wearing a face mask is the first line of defence against the novel coronavirus, along with maintaining social distance and frequently washing hands with soap. More than six months after the outbreak of Covid-19, nearly 90 percent of people in India have become aware of the necessity of wearing a face mask,
Is India finally gaining an upper hand over the Covid-19 pandemic? After weeks of new cases hitting 90,000-plus every day, the tide seems to be turning, as the number came down to 75,083 on Tuesday, and the recoveries were not only higher than that but crossed the 1 lakh mark too. The countr