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Fellow of the British Academy wins Nobel Prize for Economics

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A British Academy Fellow has scooped the Nobel Prize for economics and become the youngest recipient of the prize in its history.

Professor Esther Duflo FBA (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is one of three co-winners, along with her husband Abhijit Banerjee (MIT) and Michael Kremer (Harvard University) of the 2019 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

The trio have been honoured with the prize in recognition of their antipoverty research and relief efforts, much of which is focused on poor communities in India and Africa.

In a statement the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which grants the Nobel awards, noted that the work of Duflo, Banerjee, and Kremer has ‘dramatically improved our ability to fight poverty in practice’ and cited their ‘new approach to obtaining reliable answers about the best ways to fight global poverty.’

Professor Duflo said: ‘Showing that it is possible for a woman to succeed and be recognised for success I hope is going to inspire many, many other women to continue working and many other men to give them the respect that they deserve like every single human being.’

At 46, Professor Duflo is the youngest person to receive the Nobel Prize for economics and is also only the second woman to win the prize since it began in 1969. She was elected to the British Academy Fellowship in 2016, and currently holds a British Academy Early Childhood Development research grant to explore the impact of parental education on cognitive development in early childhood. She delivered the Keynes Lecture in Economics in 2017.

Other British Academy Fellows to have won the Nobel Prize for economics include Joseph Stiglitz (2001), Christopher Pissarides (2010) and Friedrich Hayek (1974).

Professor Sir David Cannadine, President of the British Academy, said:

‘On behalf of everyone at the British Academy, I would like to congratulate Professor Esther Duflo on this truly outstanding achievement. Professor Duflo has long been one of the leading lights in development economics, in recognition of which she was elected to the British Academy Fellowship in 2016.

‘At the age of only 46, Professor Duflo has already built up a substantial body of innovative and transformative antipoverty research. She is a worthy winner of this most prestigious award and we look forward to seeing what she does next.’

Professor Oriana Bandeira FBA said:

‘In 20 short years Esther Duflo, with her co-winners Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer, have brought the study of economic development into mainstream economics and economists a lot closer to the people that they study.’