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Nobel laureate brings poverty to the center of debate

by Ace Damon
Nobel laureate brings poverty to the center of debate

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The Nobel Prize for Economics awarded to three authors of a study to fight poverty brought the theme of “back,” with measures to improve the lives of those who are struggling, according to economists contacted by Lusa.

The 2019 Swedish Nobel laureate for economics of 9 million kronor (about € 830,000) was awarded to French Esther Duflo, Indian Abhijit Banerjee and American Michael Kremer for the “experimental approach to alleviating poverty”. according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

To the economist of the New School of Business & Economics (SBE) Pedro Vicente, “this is a Nobel Prize for the new development economics, which puts the accent on empirical analysis and evidence, and has somehow brought bring the economy closer to the people. ”

"Because the economy has mathematized so much over time and the development economics of Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer brought it back to the empirical and the evidence side," he said.


As Pedro Vicente explains, "This is not that economy of macroeconomic models, it is very far from that type of economy, although it obviously remains economics in the sense of economic science and of testing economic theories and hypotheses about people's behavior."

“Here the emphasis is on evidence to guide public policies, notably in the fight against poverty and strategies to pursue the major challenges linked to sustainable development,” he explained.

João César da Neves, a professor at the Catholic University, highlighted the methodology, "a new technique that has been a surprise and a very big influence, because what they do is a randomized controlled trial."

The economist explained that "a policy is applied to certain villages and not to others, and after a few years one can see the impact it has had and one can consider a representative process because it was done in an unbiased way."

César das Neves believes that the issue of poverty reduction “has occupied a lot of people for a long time” and that it is an “extreme case of economic failure”.


Carlos Farinha Rodrigues, a specialist in public economics at ISEG (Higher Institute of Economics and Management at the University of Lisbon), said, “that the issues of income distribution and poverty have, unfortunately, been very far from the older version. ' mainstream 'of the economy'.

That is why the economist stressed the importance of this Nobel Prize.

“These studies are based on the idea of ​​a multidimensionality of the phenomenon of poverty which means that it is not solely due to lack of resources, but is more complex and multidimensional and addresses the issues of education, health and one's own culture and living conditions”, said the teacher.

According to Carlos Farinha Rodrigues, the three winners were concerned “not only with the implementation of concrete measures, but with care in evaluating the results to draw conclusions. And many of the anti-poverty policies do not. There is an evaluation and validation of the results ”.

Confessing as a development economist “particularly attentive” to the possibility that Nobel laureates in economics could become these, Pedro Vicente pointed out that they are “quite young, in their 40s and 50s ”, And what it means in a context of“ great conservatism ”in awarding the Nobel Prizes.


“I would put a big underline here at Esther Duflo, who is the second woman and the youngest prize winner (with the Nobel Prize in economics). It's only 46 years old, which for a Nobel Prize in economics is absolutely fantastic. This is a clear sign of the great influence of these people and especially of this lady, who has carried with her since the 1990s a group of development economists – the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (IMT) 'Poverty Action Lab' – to reach with science to the developing world, systematically asking what works and what doesn't in the fight against poverty, ”he said.

According to the Nova SBE researcher, if “today the world's largest anti-poverty institutions all work together with development researchers, it is thanks to the work” of people like the three award-winning economists.

“What is at stake here is bringing experimental methods of treatment and control to the social sciences. What you have done is to come up with the idea of ​​an experimental method for assessing the impact of interventions linked to economic development. These methods make it possible to establish causality between specific public policies and outcomes with the beneficiaries and this is very powerful because we move from correlation to cause / effect which, in terms of public policies, is very important, ”he said.

“A lot goes through the idea of ​​trying to change the lives of the people who need it most through knowledge. I think this Nobel Prize is a fantastic example of science's contribution to improving people's lives, in this case the poorest people, ”he concluded.

The work conducted by the winners “introduced a new approach to obtaining reliable answers on the best way to reduce poverty in the world”, focusing on concrete and manageable aspects such as finding the most effective interventions to improve child health. or education, the Academy said.


With concentration on concrete fields and an experimental approach, the researchers found more effective methods for solving specific problems.

(tagsToTranslate) economics

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