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Duflo becomes second woman, youngest person to win Nobel Economics Prize

The 2019 Nobel Economics Prize was won by the trio of US-based economists, Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer on Monday.

Nobel Prize winner, Esther Duflo
Esther Duflo. PHOTO: AFP

Esther Duflo, one of the winners has set a record of being the second woman to win the prize and at the same time the youngest to ever win such.

The first woman to be honoured with the prize was Elinor Ostrom at the age of 76 in 2009. Ostrom died in 2012.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences which is in charge of the Nobel Prize award said their work had shown how poverty could be addressed by breaking it down into smaller and more precise questions in areas such as education and healthcare and then testing solutions in the field, according to Reuters report.

It said the results of their studies and field experiments had ranged from helping millions of Indian schoolchildren with remedial tutoring to encouraging governments around the world to increase funding for preventative medicine.

“It starts from the idea that the poor are often reduced to caricatures and even the people that try to help them do not actually understand what are the deep roots of (their) problems,” Duflo told reporters in Stockholm by telephone.

“What we try to do in our approach is to say, ‘Look, let’s try to unpack the problems one-by-one and address them as rigorously and scientifically as possible’,” she added.

The team pioneered “randomised controlled trials”, or RCTs, in economics. Long used in fields such as medicine, an RCT could, for example, take two groups of people and study what difference a treatment makes on one group while the other group is only given a placebo.

Applied to development economics, such field experiments found for example that providing more textbooks and free school meals had only small effects while targeting help for weak students made a big difference to overall educational levels.

“It’s a prize not just for us but for the whole movement,” Banerjee later told a joint news conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where they both work. Kremer is a researcher at Harvard University.

Citing Banerjee’s methods as having transformed classroom teaching in state schools in New Delhi, the Indian capital’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Twitter that it was a “big day for every Indian”.

Vanguard News Nigeria.

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