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Pioneers in poverty alleviation research win Nobel Prize in economics

Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer were awarded the Nobel Prize in economics this year for their "experimental approach to alleviating global poverty," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Oct. 14.

The Academy said the trio introduced a research methodology for determining the most efficient ways to fight poverty. Their approach involves breaking down issues into smaller, more manageable questions that can be answered through experiments.

"The Laureates' research findings – and those of the researchers following in their footsteps – have dramatically improved our ability to fight poverty in practice," the Academy said in a press release, noting that the trio's research approach has "transformed" development economics and now dominates the field.

In the 1990s, Kremer and his colleagues used field experiments to test interventions aimed at improving school results in western Kenya. Banerjee and Duflo later conducted similar studies of other issues, often in collaboration with Kremer.

Among the direct results of the trio's work are the preventive healthcare subsidies currently in place in several countries, according to the Academy, and remedial tutoring programs in schools in India that have benefited 5 million children.

Kremer is a professor of developing societies at Harvard University, while Banerjee is a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Duflo is a professor of poverty alleviation and development economics at MIT.

The annual Nobel Prize in economics is one of several awards announced Oct. 7-14 including prizes in physics, chemistry, literature and peace.