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MIT congratulates Abhijit Banerjee, wife Esther Duflo

By Yoshita Singh
Last updated on: October 14, 2019 23:06 IST
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MIT, in a release, said the 'work of Duflo and Banerjee has emphasised the use of field experiments in research, to bring the principles of laboratory-style randomised, controlled trials to empirical economics'.

Congratulating India-born professor Abhijit Banerjee and his French-American wife Esther Duflo for winning the Nobel prize in Economics, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said that their work has dramatically improved global ability to fight poverty in practice, including in India.

Born in Mumbai, the 58-year-old economist is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the MIT.


Along with Harvard University economist Michael Kremer, Banerjee and Duflo, who is the second woman and the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel in economic sciences, were named co-winners of the 2019 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

In a press release, the MIT said the "work of Duflo and Banerjee has emphasised the use of field experiments in research, to bring the principles of laboratory-style randomised, controlled trials to empirical economics.

"They have studied a wide range of topics implicated in global poverty, including health care provision, education, agriculture, and gender attitudes, while developing new antipoverty programs based on their research," the MIT said.

Earlier in a tweet, the MIT congratulated the duo on winning one of the most prestigious award in the world.

"The 2019 Economic Sciences Laureates' research findings have dramatically improved our ability to fight poverty in practice.

“As a result of one of their studies, more than 5 million Indian children have benefitted from programmes of remedial tutoring in schools," the MIT tweeted.

"MIT's Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo have won the @NobelPrize in #economics, for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty. Congratulations! They share the prize with Michael Kremer of Harvard,” the institute said in a tweet on Monday.

The MIT said that in 2003, Duflo and Banerjee (along with Sendhil Mullainathan, now of the University of Chicago) co-founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), a global network of antipoverty researchers that conducts field experiments.

The MIT said J-PAL works to both discern which kinds of local interventions have the greatest impact on social problems, and to implement those programmes more broadly, in cooperation with governments and NGOs.

Among J-PAL's notable interventions are de-worming programmes that have been adopted widely.

Duflo received her undergraduate degree from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris in 1994, after studying both history and economics.

She earned a master's degree in economics the next year, jointly through the Ecole Normale Superieure and the Ecole Polytechnique.

Duflo then earned her PhD in economics from MIT in 1999. She joined the MIT faculty the same year, and has remained at MIT her entire career.

She is currently the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics.

Previously, Duflo has earned a series of awards and honours, including a MacArthur Foundation fellowship (2009), the John Bates Clark Medal from the American Economic Association (2010), and, also in 2009, the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award for Development Cooperation.

Banerjee received his undergraduate degree from the University of Calcutta, and a master's degree from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

He earned his PhD in Economics from Harvard University in 1988.

He spent four years on the faculty at Princeton University, and one year at Harvard, before joining the MIT faculty in 1993.

Duflo and Banerjee have published dozens of research papers, together and with other co-authors.

They have also co-written two books together, “Poor Economics” (2011) and the forthcoming “Good Economics for Hard Times” (2019).

Duflo and Banerjee are the sixth and seventh people to win the award while serving as MIT faculty members, following Paul Samuelson (1970), Franco Modigliani (1985), Robert Solow (1987), Peter Diamond (2010), and Bengt Holmstrom (2016).

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