Saturday, April 24, 2010

Professor Esther Duflo Wins John Bates Clark Medal

Esther Duflo, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has won the John Bates Clark medal, given to promising economists under the age of 40. Duflo, a 37-year-old native of France, is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at MIT and a director of MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). Duflo has pioneered methods of analyzing antipoverty programs worldwide to uncover and determine effective ways to combat poverty.

In conjunction with Harvard University's Kennedy School and Stephen Ryan at MIT, for example, a program was implemented in India where certain teachers were given cameras with time and date stamps. They were instructed to take pictures of their students each morning and afternoon. Teacher absences in these schools dropped overnight and student test scores increased as a result.

In another notable study, Duflo, together with Banerjee and J-PAL’s executive director, Rachel Glennerster, found that the rate at which families in northern India will immunize their children jumps from about 5 percent to nearly 40 percent when parents are offered a small bag of lentils as an incentive.

Duflo founded the Poverty Action Lab in 2003, along with MIT colleagues Abhijit Banergee and Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainnathan.

In recognition of Duflo's accomplishments and humanitarianism, Centercut is delighted to add Esther Duflo to its Centercut Clear Thinker list of notable people who think out of the box.

Richard Wottrich

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