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Nobel Prize for Economics: step by step in the fight against poverty

2019-10-14T14:28:33.084Z

TIME ONLINE | News, backgrounds and debates



Stockholm (dpa) - How can effectively prevent every second child worldwide from leaving school without basic knowledge in reading, writing and arithmetic? How can states fight the plight that still more than 700 million people with extremely low incomes have to cope?

And how can the world community avoid the deaths of five million infants each year from diseases that would have helped with cheap medicines or preventive medicine? These are just a few of the questions that this year's Nobel Prize Jury in Stockholm has dealt with.

The economists Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer have provided answers. And they will be awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics this year. The findings of the three researchers had "dramatically improved our ability to fight poverty in practice," praised the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. In only two decades, they would have turned development economics into a thriving field of research.

A merit of the researchers, all working at US universities: They divided the extremely complex task of global poverty reduction into many small individual topics in order to make them more manageable and manageable. For example, the three researchers showed how schooling and the health of children could be improved with small, precise steps, the jury said.

The economists did pioneering work on the poor in practice. The Harvard economist Kremer (54) and his colleagues, for example, conducted field experiments in the mid-1990s to test measures for better education in Kenya. In such experiments, people are randomized into groups. Each one receives slightly different conditions, but otherwise lives on normally. After some time, it can be observed on the basis of the group comparison which policy has which consequences.

"While poverty reduction activities planned on the drawing board often fail to produce the desired results, they provide better clues as to what works in practice," said Christoph Schmidt, President of the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research (RWI). Duflo, Banerjee and Kremer had "developed field experiments in a remarkable way and introduced them into the public debate".

The jury in Stockholm performed a number of practical tricks of the trio. As a direct result of their work, for example, more than five million children in India have benefited from effective support programs. Another example is the significant health care subsidies that have been introduced in many countries. The work of Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer today played a key role in the fight against global poverty. Incidentally, this was also recognized by former US President Barack Obama, who appointed Duflo to his advisory body for global development.

Duflo, who, like her husband Banerjee (58) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology does research, but also sees the policy more in the duty - such as barriers to trade of the EU against agricultural products. But even if all barriers and tariffs were removed, global poverty could not be completely eradicated, she said after the award ceremony. "The farmer in Kenya still needs supplementary funds." However, the budgets for development aid are relatively small.

Duflo, who was born in Paris and also has US citizenship, is only the second wife after the American Elinor Ostrom, who receives the Nobel Prize for Economics. The 46-year-old is married to the native Indians Banerjee - it is the first married couple to share the prestigious prize in the economy category.

As she wanted to use the prize money of about 830,000 euros, she now had to discuss with Banerjee and Kremer, said Duflo in a telephone conversation with the jury - and referred to another famous researcher in world history: At eight or nine years she has a biography Physics and Chemistry Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie. They bought one gram of radium after their first price. She thought that was "fantastic" because it showed Curie's great passion for her work, Duflo said. "We three now have to talk together and find out what our gram of radium is."

Nobel Foundation on Twitter

Source: zeit

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