Esther Duflo is a renowned French economist. She commits her work to find solutions to end poverty and improve the lot of the poor. Her studies focus on microeconomics issues in third-world countries. It encompasses such aspects as health, finance, education, public policies, and general consumption patterns. A Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT), she is also the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics.
Her work and lifetime of dedication to her area of expertise, have seen Esther Duflo receive numerous awards and recommendations. She is the recipient of the Best Young Economist of France Award in 2005, the Bates Clark Medal in 2010, the Dan Davis Prize in 2013, the Princess of Asturias Award for Social Sciences in 2015, and the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2019. She received the latter together with her research partners Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer for their work on global poverty issues.
Her experiences as a child in France made her determined to not let her gender define her. A strong student in all her subjects, Esther Duflo developed an interest in global poverty among children at an early age. This led to her desire to become a researcher. As a college student, she volunteered at soup kitchens and a prison. Her move to Moscow, Russia, saw her teach at the Social Science University while studying economic reform.
Esther Duflo earned her master’s degree at the Paris School of Economics and her Ph.D. in Economics at MIT. She quickly learned that poverty traps limit poor people’s opportunities. If these traps were identified and eliminated, one would see a reduction in global poverty. Her professors, Banerjee and Kremer, had started using the experimental method to test theories for poverty reduction. She joined them in their work. They argued that the best approach to such a large issue was by breaking the problem down into smaller pieces. This meant studying the individual factors that contribute to global poverty and conducting experiments to find solutions. By adopting the solutions, policymakers would help alleviate the global poverty problem.
Together with Banerjee, her husband, Esther Duflo founded J-PAL, the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab. In 2019, the lab had involved itself in 998 projects spanning 84 countries. The policies developed as a result of their research had impacted the lives of over 450 million people. The initiative led to a Nobel Prize Award.
A successful writer, she has co-authored ‘Poor Economics’ and ‘Good Economics for Hard Times’.
As a conference speaker of note, Esther Duflo is an excellent speaker on various aspects of both macro- and microeconomics with a particular emphasis on global poverty. She lives in France and speaks and presents in English and French.