Nobel Economics Prize: Experiment-based research to reduce hunger, malnutrition, and global poverty

I am delighted to congratulate Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer on winning this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics. Building on their prominent work in applied economics theory and methodology, the Laureates pioneered research in development economics with the aim to reduce global poverty, which has influenced much of IFPRI’s work. The Laureates reshaped economics research by designing a new approach to alleviating global poverty. Utilizing randomized controlled trials (RCTs), the Laureates sought to answer key questions on global poverty at individual or group levels through specially designed field experiments. In just the past 20 years, this new research has contributed key results to inform global development efforts.

For instance, studies showed that while additional resources in general had limited value, educational reforms to help adapt teaching to students’ needs had significant benefits. Measures to improve school governance and teacher accountability were also shown to be cost-effective. Other studies shed light on central issues healthcare for the poor in developing countries, namely the price sensitivity regarding investments in preventative healthcare and low-quality service delivery. While it is difficult to measure the precise impact that these research findings have had on policy implementation, the strong evidence base built by the Laureates has informed programs, such as remedial tutoring reaching more than 5 million children in India, as well as policies, including the World Health Organization’s recommendation to distribute medicine for free in areas where many children are prone to parasitic worm infections.

Photo Credit: Nobel Media