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PISA2018-2.5 Nobel Prize in Economics 2019 – Poverty and Education

The 2019 Nobel Prize in economics (correctly the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences) was awarded to Abhijit Banerjee (Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Esther Duflo (Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at MIT) and Michael Kremer (Gates Professor of Developing Societies at Harvard University) “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”. Through the award, the Nobel committee recognised both the significance of development economics in the world today and the innovative approaches developed by these three economists.

Two experiments conducted in Mumbai and Vadodara, India[1], designed to evaluate ways to improve the quality of education in urban slums, found hiring young women from the community to teach basic literacy and numeracy skills to children lagging behind in government schools to be very effective. These gains persisted for at least one year after leaving the program. Classmates, who did not attend the remedial courses but did experience smaller classes, did not post gains, confirming that resources alone may not be sufficient to improve outcomes.

[1] Abhijit Banerjee, Shawn Cole, Esther Duflo, and Leigh Linden, “Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India”, Working Paper, Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development, November 13, 2005