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Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, two of this year's winners of the Nobel Prize in economics. Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, who along with Michael Kremer were awarded this year's Nobel Prize in economics, at a news conference at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oct. 14, 2019 (AP photo by Michael Dwyer).

The Winners of the Nobel in Economics Revolutionized How to Fight Poverty

Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019

The winners of the Nobel Prize in economics usually toil in relative obscurity, renowned among their academic peers while carrying out work whose benefit may be elusive to everyone else. By comparison, the work of other Nobel laureates usually seems much more concrete and easier to grasp, especially for the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, whose impact is so clear-cut that they often become global superstars. Even in other scientific fields, the winners’ work can elicit popular nods of agreement with the Nobel Committee. Take this year’s winners of the chemistry prize, who helped develop rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which people all over the world use in mobile phones.

And yet the work of this year’s economics laureates, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo of MIT and Michael Kremer of Harvard University, may have the most far-reaching impact of all on improving human lives—by successfully tackling poverty. In doing so, their research could ultimately affect global politics, one community at a time, with more force than most of the items we focus on day after day in World Politics Review. In awarding them the Nobel, the committee cited the three economists’ “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” Revolutionizing the field of economics, it turns out, can change the world. ...

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