Abhijit Banerjee: From Calcutta University To Economics Nobel Prize

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Abhijit Banerjee's journey from the University of Calcutta to winning the Nobel Prize in Economics for his experimental approach to alleviating global poverty

Written By Tanima Ray | Mumbai | Updated On:
Abhijit Banerjee

Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, an Indian-American economist has been awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2019 which was announced on October 14. The economist reportedly bagged the prize for his work in the field of Development Economics, with particular emphasis on alleviating global poverty. Currently, Abhijit is the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the third Bengali after Rabindranath Tagore to receive a Nobel.

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Abhijit's initial upbringing in India

Born on 21 February 1961, Banerjee's parents, Nirmala Banerjee and Dipak Banerjee, were Professor of Economics at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, and Professor and the Head of the Department of Economics at Presidency College, Calcutta respectively. His schooling and graduation took place in South Point School and Presidency College, Calcutta, where he completed his B.S. degree in economics in 1981. Later, he moved to New Delhi and completed his M.A. in economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1983. 

When the Nobel laureate moved abroad 

Abhijit moved abroad to attain his PhD from Harvard in 1988. As per reports, the subject of his doctoral thesis was "Essays in Information Economics". He is now the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after he had taught at Harvard University and Princeton University. His significant works include development economics for which he received the Nobel. Along with this, he has proposed field experiments as an important methodology to discover causal relationships in economics. 

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Awards and honours received by Abhijit Banerjee

  • 2004: Elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 
  • 2009: Honoured with the Infosys Prize 2009 in the social sciences category of economics. 
  • 2012: Shared the Gerald Loeb Award Honorable Mention for Business Book with co-author Esther Duflo for their book Poor Economics.
  • 2013: Named by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to a panel of experts tasked with updating the Millennium Development Goals after 2015.
  • 2014: Received Bernhard-Harms-Prize from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  • 2019: Delivered Export-Import Bank Of India's 34th Commencement Day Annual Lecture on Redesigning Social Policy.
  • 2019: Nobel Prize in Economics, together with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer, for their work alleviating global poverty.

His other achievements

He co-founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab along with economists Esther Duflo and Sendhil Mullainathan. Abhijit is also a research affiliate of Innovations for Poverty Action and a member of the Consortium on Financial Systems and Poverty. Banerjee served as the president of the Bureau for the Research in the Economic Analysis of Development, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a research fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research, an international research fellow of the Kiel Institute, fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow at the Econometric Society. He has also been a Guggenheim Fellow and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow. He is the co-author of Poor Economics.

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Books written by Abhijit Banerjee

  • 2005: Aghion, Philippe; Banerjee, Abhijit; Volatility And Growth, Oxford University Press. 
  • 2006: Banerjee, Abhijit Vinayak; Bénabou, Roland; Mookherjee, Dilip, eds; Understanding Poverty, Oxford University Press.
  • 2005: Banerjee, Abhijit Vinayak; Making Aid Work; Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • 2011: Banerjee, Abhijit V.; Duflo, Esther; Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty; New York: PublicAffairs.
  • 2017: Banerjee, Abhijit Vinayak; Duflo, Esther, eds.; Handbook of Field Experiments, Volume 1; North-Holland (an imprint of Elsevier).
  • 2017: Banerjee, Abhijit Vinayak; Duflo, Esther, eds.; Handbook of Field Experiments, Volume 2; North-Holland (an imprint of Elsevier).
  • 2019: Banerjee, Abhijit Vinayak ( 2019 ); A Short History of Poverty Measurements; Juggernaut Books.

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