Oslo: Economists Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, both of M.I.T., and Harvard’s Michael Kremer have spent more than 20 years helping to revolutionize the way that researchers study — and help — the world’s poor.
On Monday, their experimental approach toward poverty alleviation won them the 2019 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Ms. Duflo, 46, is both the youngest economics laureate ever and the second woman to win the distinction.
“It really reflects the fact that it has become a movement, a movement that is much larger than us,” Professor Duflo said, speaking at a news conference shortly after learning of the award.
The three researchers have taken a scientific approach to studying problems like education deficiencies and child health. They break issues into smaller questions, search for evidence about which interventions work to resolve them, and seek practical ways to bring those treatments to scale.
“In just two decades, their new experiment-based approach has transformed development economics, which is now a flourishing field of research,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement.
More than 5 million Indian children have benefited from effective remedial tutoring thanks to one of their studies, the release noted, while other work of theirs has inspired public investment in preventive health care.
Ms. Duflo and Mr. Banerjee, who are married, in 2003 co-founded a global network of poverty researchers called the J-PAL. The coalition helps to identify effective interventions — like deworming campaigns — and then works with governments and nongovernment organizations to implement them.
The pair have a book, “Good Economics for Hard Times,” coming out in November, and they wrote an previous book, titled “Poor Economics.”
Ms. Duflo won the John Bates Clark Medal from the American Economic Association in 2010, a frequent precursor to the Nobel.