Stockholm (Ekonamik) – The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has announced the Sveriges Riksbank Memorial Nobel Prize in Economics for 2019. The winners are Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo from MIT, and Michael Kremer, from Harvard. They are receiving the prize “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.”
Contrarily to some other Nobel Laureates, economics awards tend to focus on a body of work, rather than on a specific publication. A lot of the work relevant to this year’s award was conducted at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT, where Banerjee and Duflo are based. The Lab named after its funder, founded in 2003 with with “the goal of transforming how the world approaches the challenges of global poverty.”
J-PAL’s researchers and staff design and support innovative, large-scale randomized evaluations to identify the most effective approaches to reducing poverty. To date more than 950 randomized evaluations have been conducted by J-PAL affiliated researchers. Such studies involve identifying specific benefits and best timings for subsidising school books, female education, and optimal teacher contracts in India among many other lines of enquiry.
“J-PAL has and always will represent a shared bond between our affiliated researchers, more than 400 dedicated staff worldwide, and hundreds of funding and implementation partners,” Abhijit Banerjee noted. “Without their incredible commitment, creativity, and hard work, this journey would not have been possible. I am so grateful to all of them.”
This is only the second time that a woman receives the Sveriges Riksbank Nobel Prize in Economics. Prior to Duflo, the last time another woman was awarded the honour was in 2009, when Elinor Ostrom received it for her work on economic governance. Duflo is also the youngest person to receive the award.
“This recognition signifies the critical importance and urgency of our work,” Duflo explains. “We have seen the great potential of experimental research and policy engagement to make change on a global scale. I look forward to taking this work forward with J-PAL’s incredible affiliated researchers, staff, funders, and implementers to reach hundreds of millions more around the world.”