The 2019 Nobel Prize for economics was awarded to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer on Monday. They won it “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” Esther Duflo is only the second woman to receive the prestigious prize.
Banerjee and Duflo, who are married to each other, co-founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in 2013, and teach at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Kremer teaches at Harvard University.
The award, officially known as the “Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences In Memory Of Alfred Nobel”, was created by Swedish bank Riksbanken in 1968. It is considered a part of the Nobel awards, and has been bestowed upon 81 Nobel laureates in economic sciences so far. Winners receive nine million-kronor ($918,000) cash prize, a gold medal and a diploma.
“The research conducted by this year’s laureates has considerably improved our ability to fight global poverty,” the Nobel Committee said in a statement. “In just two decades, their new experiment-based approach has transformed development economics, which is now a flourishing field of research.”
Banerjee, who was born in Kolkata, received his undergraduate degree in economics from the city’s Presidency College and then went on to pursue his masters at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. He completed his doctoral degree in economics from Harvard University in the United States.
Banerjee’s mother, Nirmala Banerjee, is an economics professor at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Kolkata. His father, Deepak Banerjee, is the head of economics department at Presidency College. “I am very happy,” Nirmala Banerjee told ANI. “It’s a big glory for the entire family.”
Banerjee was among a group of economists and social scientists who, in March, urged the Narendra Modi-led central government to restore the integrity of statistical organisations, saying their national and global reputation was “at stake”. In a statement, the group of 108 people said it was time for “all professional economists, statisticians, [and] independent researchers in policy” to come together to “raise their voice against the tendency to suppress uncomfortable data”. Duflo was also among the signatories.
Last week, six Nobel prizes in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace were announced.
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