France's Esther Duflo, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics Monday for her work on the fight against poverty, has emerged in recent years as one of the brightest economists of her generation.
Even before getting the Nobel, this Franco-American was one of the most celebrated economists in the world, especially in the United States, for his empirical work against poverty that earned him prestigious awards, including in 2010 the John Bates Clark Medal.
Many recipients of this distinction, which rewards the work of economists in the United States under 40 years, have also subsequently been consecrated by the Nobel, like Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Samuelson, Milton Friedman, James Tobin and Paul Krugman.
Esther Duflo's work, mostly done in India, earned her in 2013 to be chosen by the White House to advise President Barack Obama on development issues by sitting on the new Committee for Global Development.
This dark-haired furry man with square hair, with decided eyes, had the honors in 2010 of a portrait of ten pages in the New Yorker, in a number dedicated to the innovators of our time.
In half a century of Nobel economics history, Esther Duflo is only the second woman to receive this distinction.
- Theoretical of chance -
"It's a center-left French intellectual who believes in the redistribution and the optimistic notion that tomorrow could be better than today." She is largely at the origin of a new academic trend. New Yorker.
The sensibility of this economist, born in Paris in 1972, took shape in a Protestant family, with a pediatrician mother, invested in the humanitarian and she regularly quotes as a model, and a father mathematician, teacher-researcher.
Graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), she also holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, where she is still today Professor.
At the Abdul Latif Jameel Research Laboratory on Poverty Alleviation, which she co-founded in 2003 and leads, her work is based on field experiences in partnership with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). According to the New Yorker, this approach earned him, and his other followers, the nickname "randomista".
For example, "if we set up a new school support program in schools, we choose 200 schools at random, of which 100 will implement the program and the other 100 not," she told AFP in 2010, when she was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal.
The students' progress is then compared and evaluated in both cases, and the results of these experiments are then relayed to the public authorities and charitable organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to "scale them up". ", she stressed.
- "Caricatures and clichés" -
In addition to her duties at MIT, this amateur climber was also the first holder of a chair at the College of France on "Knowledge against poverty".
Her book "Rethinking Poverty" co-authored with the Indian Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee - winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize, and with whom she had a child - received the Financial Times / Goldman Economic Book of the Year Award Sachs in 2011.
"Our vision of poverty is dominated by caricatures and clichés: the poor lazy, the poor entrepreneur, the poor hungry," she explained in an interview with AFP. "If we want to understand the problems of poverty, we have to go beyond these cartoons and understand why the very fact of being poor changes some things in behavior, and others do not!"
This effort to change the perception of poverty, she would also like to apply it to look at the economy and economists.
"Economists have a very bad reputation and part of this bad reputation is probably justified given the way the discipline works", she explained early in 2019 on France Inter, regretting "a confusion where one says oneself" if someone is economist, so in fact he is interested in finance, he works for the rich + while it is not necessarily the case ".
© 2019 AFP