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Married Nobel Winners: No Shop Talk During Dinner

Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo of MIT say their 2 kids won't have it
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 14, 2019 1:43 PM CDT
Esther Duflo, left, and Abhijit Banerjee stand together following a news conference at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. Banerjee and Duflo, along with...   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
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(Newser) – Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo say they're just like any other married couple trying to juggle kids and work. One key difference: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers each won the Nobel Economics Prize Monday, along with Michael Kremer of Harvard, for their work on alleviating poverty. Banerjee and Duflo have two children ages 5 and 7, per the AP. Their children "believe they are the center of the universe, and they don't accept kitchen table conversation" about weighty matters like economics, says Duflo. That means the couple sneak in shop talk while they're cooking meals or walking to work. Duflo and Banerjee told a news conference at MIT they weren't sure how to react when the Nobel committee woke them with the news of their win. Duflo said that when the phone rang, she answered and was told it was an important call from Sweden.

She said her response was: "Well, since you've now woken me up, go ahead." More seriously, she said that receiving the Nobel was "incredibly humbling" while noting that the profession is not always welcoming for women. "Showing that it is possible for a woman to succeed and be recognized for success I hope is going to inspire many, many other women to continue working and many other men to give them the respect that they deserve," she said. She is just the second woman to win the economics Nobel and, at 46, she is the youngest person in history. The three winners, who have worked together, revolutionized developmental economics by pioneering field experiments that generate practical insights into how poor people respond to education, health care, and other programs meant to lift them out of poverty. (Read more Nobel Prize in Economics stories.)

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