Mumbai-born economics professor Abhijit Banerjee and two other US-based economists won the Nobel Prize in economics for 2019, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced on Monday.
Banerjee and his French-American wife, Esther Duflo, along with Michael Kremer share this year’s prize “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”, the academy said in a statement.
Banerjee and Duflo are professors at Massachusetts Institute of Technology while Kremer is a professor at Harvard University. The three will share the prize money of 9 million Swedish crown ($915,300).
Duflo is the second woman and the youngest person to be awarded the economics prize, according to a tweet by the Nobel prize committee.
The academy said the trio introduced a new approach to obtaining answers about the best ways to fight poverty. “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.”
While Kremer conducted field experiments to test a range of interventions that could improve school results in Kenya, Banerjee and Duflo performed similar studies of other issues and in other countries.
“Their experimental research methods now entirely dominate development economics,” the academy said. It added that, 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.
Banerjee studied at the University of Calcutta and Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. He received a Ph.D from Harvard in 1988. In 2003, he founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, along with Duflo and Sendhil Mullainathan, the MIT website shows. He is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the MIT.
Banerjee has won numerous accolades in his career, including the Infosys prize. He is the author of four books, including Poor Economics, which won the Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year.
Duflo, born in Paris in 1972, received a Ph.D. in economics from MIT in 1999. She is currently Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of poverty alleviation and development economics at the MIT and co-authored Poor Economics with Banerjee.