War On Poverty Akin To Battle Against Cancer, Economics Nobel Laureates Say
Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics along with Michael Kramer, at Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo: PTI)

War On Poverty Akin To Battle Against Cancer, Economics Nobel Laureates Say

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The war on poverty cannot be won in one major battle but in a series of small triumphs.

This was the firm belief of Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer, winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics when they started their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.

The trio on Tuesday received the Sveriges Riksbanks Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for 2019 at an award ceremony in Stockholm.

Duflo, speaking on behalf of them, said "we represent a movement that is much broader than any one of us. We believe that the Prize recognises not only what this movement has accomplished, but also what it could accomplish in the future".

"This movement started with the conviction that it is possible to make significant progress against poverty in the world by focusing on well-defined questions, and being as rigorous as possible in answering those questions in the real world," she was quoted as saying by NobelPrize.org website.

Banerjee and his French-American wife Duflo, who work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S., attended the event wearing traditional Indian dresses.

Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson and Economics Laureate Abhijit Banerjee arrive to the Nobel banquet at Stockholm City Hall, in Stockholm, Sweden, on Dec. 10, 2019. (Photo: PTI)
Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson and Economics Laureate Abhijit Banerjee arrive to the Nobel banquet at Stockholm City Hall, in Stockholm, Sweden, on Dec. 10, 2019. (Photo: PTI)

Banerjee, 58, turned up in a cream kurta teamed with a white gold-bordered dhoti and closed neck black vest. Duflo, 47, wore a blue saree, red blouse and a red bindi.

Economics Mobel Laureate Esther Duflo gives her speech during the Nobel banquet at Stockholm City Hall, in Stockholm. Sweden, on Dec. 10, 2019. (Photo: PTI)
Economics Mobel Laureate Esther Duflo gives her speech during the Nobel banquet at Stockholm City Hall, in Stockholm. Sweden, on Dec. 10, 2019. (Photo: PTI)

"In 1990, 1.9 million people lived in extreme poverty. 8.8 million children died before their first birthday. Faced with this enormous problem, many people's reaction was to try to not think about it at all. Others hope to find some magic bullet,” Duflo said.

"We believed that like the war on cancer, the war on poverty was not going to be won in one major battle, but in a series of small triumphs, and with no doubt many setbacks along the way.

"We had two closely related ambitions. The first one was to contribute to improving the lives of the poor, here and now. The second was to build a better understanding of how they live their lives, from the ground up, by building a fuller picture, one question at a time," she said.

During the speech, the Nobel laureate thanked people and organisations which supported their work.

"This work and the culture of learning that it fostered in governments has led to real improvement in the lives of hundred of millions of poor people,” Duflo said.

Also Read: Abhijit Banerjee: Nobel Laureate, Economics Writer, Director...And Cook!

"Today, I am also proud to represent women, and in particular women in economics. Tellingly, Elinor Ostrom, the only other woman before me also relied on field work and studied what we can learn from poorer societies, from Nepal to Indonesia. I don't think this is an accident. Development is one field of economics that has its fair share of women.

Also Read: What’s the Point of the Economics Nobel?

"Some of my own work has been on the importance of women as role models: I cannot help but hope that this prize, with its emphasis the essential question of how to improve the lives of others, and with one woman among the laureates, will encourage many others to come join us," sh added.

Also Read: Economics Nobel Celebrates Asking the Right Questions

The three economists will share the prize money of 9 million Swedish krona (Rs 6.7 crore) among themselves. They will donate the amount to fund grants that will support economic research for the next 15 years, according to U.S. media reports.

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