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Meet Abhijit Banerjee, the Bengali economist who brought home the Nobel Prize

He had also won the Infosys prize in Social Sciences in the year 2009 for his contributions to the economics of development, and empirical evaluation of public policy

October 14, 2019 / 08:10 PM IST

The Nobel Prize for Economics was shared by Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer this year for their contribution towards “fighting poverty”.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced on October 14 that the trio won the award because of their “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty has considerably improved our ability to fight global poverty”.

The 58-year-old Indo-American professor was born in India and is an alumnus of premier educational institutes South Point School in Kolkata, Presidency College, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Harvard University. At Harvard, he received a PhD in the year 1988.

He founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in 2003, along with fellow laureate Duflo, and Sendhil Mullainathan. Banerjee continues to be at the helm of affairs at the research laboratory.

In less than two decades, the economists devised a way to fight global poverty far more effectively by transforming the approach towards development economics. Their approach involved dividing the factors that contribute to poverty into smaller issues.

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The trio would demonstrate the efficacy of their approach using field experiments that proved fruitful in several countries plagued by poverty, such as Kenya and India. Now, the field of developmental economics is entirely focused around their approach towards the subject.

Given his contributions, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Banerjee has also served the United Nations in the UN Secretary-General’s panel that was studying post-2015 developmental agenda.

That apart, the Bengali economist has headed the Bureau for Research in the Economic Analysis of Development. He was also a Research Associate at the NBER, a Research Fellow of the CEPR, International Research Fellow of the Kiel Institute, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society, a Fellow of Guggenheim, and Alfred P Sloan.

He had also won the Infosys prize in Social Sciences in the year 2009 for his contributions to the economics of development, and empirical evaluation of public policy.

Banerjee has authored multiple books and articles too. His single-most recognised work is ‘Poor Economics’, the book that earned him the Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. It was co-authored by Duflo.

Notably, Banerjee and Duflo have had a child together and had got married in the year 2015 after divorcing his former wife Arundhati Banerjee.
Jagyaseni Biswas
first published: Oct 14, 2019 06:10 pm

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