Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer have been awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2019 for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.
Duflo and Banerjee are both professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, while Kremer teaches at Harvard University. Duflo, who is married to Banerjee, is the second woman and the youngest person to receive the honor.
"This year’s laureates have played a decisive role in reshaping research in development economics," said The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. "Over just 20 years, the subject has become a flourishing, primarily experimental, area of mainstream economics. This new experiment-based research has already helped in alleviating global poverty and has great potential to further improve the lives of the most impoverished people on the planet."
The experimental research method the winners pioneered consists of breaking down the larger issue of global poverty into smaller, more precise questions and making recommendations based on carefully designed experiments among the worst affected, according to the academy.
The findings from this method are considered reliable because they are arrived at with field experiments and randomized controlled trials. In this way, policy measures can be tested in everyday environments and researchers also gain an insight into the way people make decisions.
Banerjee and Duflo's study on remedial education programs in India resulted in remedial tutoring in schools that more than five million Indian children benefited from. Heavy subsidies for preventive healthcare in many countries was also an outcome of the laureates' work.
Besides directly shaping policy, their work has also had an influence on the way public and private organizations make decisions. Their approach now dominates the field of development economics.