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Nobel Goes to Economists Studying Roots of Poverty

Esther Duflo is second-ever female winner
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2019 6:21 AM CDT
In this Friday Oct. 23, 2015 photo, Esther Duflo of France waves after receiving the Princess of Asturias award for Social Sciences from Spain's King Felipe VI at a ceremony in Oviedo, northern Spain.   (AP Photo/Jose Vicente, File)
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(Newser) – Three researchers with an "experimental approach to alleviating global poverty" have won this year's Nobel in economics, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences says. The prize was won by French-American researcher Esther Duflo, her fellow MIT researcher Abhijit Banerjee, and Michael Kremer at Harvard, the New York Times reports. This year's laureates, the academy says, have "introduced a new approach to obtaining reliable answers about the best way to fight global poverty." It "involves dividing this issue into smaller, more manageable questions—for example, the most effective interventions for improving educational outcomes or child health." Their findings have "dramatically improved our ability to fight poverty in practice," the academy says.

Duflo is the second woman to win the prize in its 50-year history. The 46-year-old is also the youngest-ever winner. She tells the Guardian that the trio's work focuses on understanding the "deep, interconnected roots of poverty." Their approach, she says, is to "unpack the problems one by one and examine them as scientifically as possible." She says she hopes her victory will inspire "many, many other women to continue working and many other men to give them the respect they deserve." Duflo, who is married to Banerjee, says that when she was eight or nine years old, she read that Marie Curie spent her Nobel winnings on equipment for more research. She plans to do the equivalent with her share of the $915,000 prize. (One of last year's economics winners ignored calls from the academy, thinking they were spam.)

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