” Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences 2019 – Experimental Research takes the Cake ” – October 14, 2019.

Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel  (2019)  has been announced just now.

           The prize has been awarded jointly to Abhijit Banerjee ,  Ether Duflo,  and  Michael Kremer.  Significantly the threesome sports a lady (2nd lady to receive the Economic Sciences Nobel after Elinor Ostrom in 2009),  Ether Duflo whose contribution is drawn to a new set of ideas in development economics including experimental research.

          “Experimental approach to alleviation of Global poverty” is the essence of their contribution. Particularly at a time when the world is witnessing a hunger turmoil, this award constitutes not just the recognition of it but the means to approach the challenge based on the results of their experimental studies of nearly three decades on the problem.

            Michael Kremer’s work  in Kenya in the 1990s was the beginning sowing the seeds of the larger body of work in this field ;  the works of Ether Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee helped deepen and broaden the approach and the conduct of investigations combining the contributions well. Influencing factors as education, health, agriculture, teaching methods, and teacher’s role helped completely reshape research in economics to reach the final contribution of identifying effective ways of alleviating poverty.

          Abhijit Banerjee’s work on the ‘right level of programs’  for intervention at the right time in the learning process was a major step in the process benefiting more than 60 million individuals in India and Africa. “Learning Crisis” was how they characterised the symptoms of the problem.

          Their categorisation of the interventions that will work to achieve the goal of reducing poverty stems from their study of “Human Behaviour”. Just increasing the school inputs without the needed reforms will not prove beneficial is one of their conclusions.

          About 700 million people live in extreme poverty ;  one in three children are malnourished ;  many children leave school because of the lack of basic amenities – induced them to make an analysis of cause of poverty, cause of policies and cost effectiveness while identifying the approach, means, and ways to reduce poverty. The study made massive progress in the last three decades with work from more than 100 researchers many from China included. In effect it was a collective work as any experimental research will entail. Time is right now for the award, as one of the members of the announcing team emphasized.

          Two factors need special mention in conclusion :

          1.  At a time when many, including economists, hold the view that the Nobel studies in the last 50 years seemed good at framing problems and offering insights but not delivering answers or solutions, this award with a clear sense of  problem diagnosis, approach, experimental work, empirical data, analysis, and inferences for interventions constitute a break in the mold in terms of clear evidence.

          2.   “Nobel Committee usually recognises past contributions without any specific move to influence future”  –  this award for the work on poverty alleviation will certainly influence and spur the temper and activities of future work in a host of Institutions around the world in Experimental and Behavioral economy enhancing the utilitarian point of view simultaneously.


   “Dieu avec nous”

   Monday, October 14,  2019 –  4.49 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit :  ”  More and more women are entering Economic Sciences “.  –  member, Committee announcing the Nobel Prize, 2019.






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