Abhijit Banerjee

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Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee
Abhijit Banerjee FT Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2011 (cropped).jpg
Banerjee in November 2011
Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee

(1961-02-21) 21 February 1961 (age 61)
CitizenshipUnited States
  • Arundhati Tuli Banerjee (divorced 2014)
  • (m. 2015)
InstitutionMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Harvard University
Princeton University
FieldDevelopment economics
Social economics
Alma mater
Eric Maskin
Esther Duflo[1]
Dean Karlan[2]
Benjamin Jones[3]
Nancy Qian[4]
ContributionsAbdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab
AwardsNobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2019)
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee (pronounced [obʱidʒit bɛnardʒi]; born 21 February 1961) is an Indian-born naturalized American economist who is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[5][6] Banerjee shared the 2019 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer "for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty".[7][8] He and Esther Duflo, who are married, are the sixth married couple to jointly win a Nobel Prize.[9]

Early life and education[edit]

Abhijit Banerjee was born to a Bengali father and to a Marathi mother in Mumbai.[10] His father, Dipak Banerjee, was a professor of economics at Presidency College, Calcutta,[11] and his mother Nirmala Banerjee (née Patankar), a professor of economics at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta.[12][13] His father, Dipak Banerjee, earned a PhD in economics from the London School of Economics.[14]

He received his school education in South Point High School, a renowned educational institution in Calcutta. After his schooling, he took admission at Presidency College, then an affiliated college of the University of Calcutta and now an autonomous university, where he completed his BSc(H) degree in economics in 1981. Later, he completed his M.A. in economics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi in 1983.[15] While studying in JNU, he was arrested and imprisoned in Tihar Jail during a protest after students gheraoed the then Vice Chancellor PN Srivastava of the university. He was released on bail and charges were subsequently dropped against the students.[16] Later, he went on to obtain a PhD from Harvard University in 1988.[5] The subject of his doctoral thesis was "Essays in Information Economics."[17]

Academic career[edit]

Banerjee is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology;[18] he has taught at Harvard University and Princeton University.[19] He has also been a Guggenheim Fellow and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow.[5]

His work focuses on development economics. Together with Esther Duflo he has discussed field experiments as an important methodology to discover causal relationships in economics.[20] He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004.[21] He was also honored with the Infosys Prize 2009 in the social sciences category of economics. He is also the recipient of the inaugural Infosys Prize in the category of social sciences (economics).[22] He also served on the Social Sciences jury for the Infosys Prize in 2018. In 2012, he shared the Gerald Loeb Award Honorable Mention for Business Book with co-author Esther Duflo for their book Poor Economics.[23]

In 2013, he was named by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to a panel of experts tasked with updating the Millennium Development Goals after 2015 (their expiration date).[24]

In 2014, he received the Bernhard-Harms-Prize from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.[25]

In 2019, he delivered Export-Import Bank of India's 34th Commencement Day Annual Lecture on Redesigning Social Policy.[26]

In 2019, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics, together with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer, for their work alleviating global poverty.[27]

Research and work in India[edit]

Banerjee and his co-workers try to measure the effectiveness of actions (such as government programmes) in improving people's lives. For this, they use randomized controlled trials, similar to clinical trials in medical research.[28] For example, although polio vaccination is freely available in India, many mothers were not bringing their children for the vaccination drives. Banerjee and Prof. Esther Duflo, also from MIT, tried an experiment in Rajasthan, where they gave a bag of pulses to mothers who vaccinated their children. Soon, the immunization rate went up in the region. In another experiment, they found that learning outcomes improved in schools that were provided with teaching assistants to help students with special needs.[29]

Banerjee is a co-founder of Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (along with economists Esther Duflo and Sendhil Mullainathan).[30] In India he serves on the academic advisory board of Plaksha University, a science and technology university established in 2010.[31][32]

Personal life[edit]

Abhijit Banerjee was married to Dr. Arundhati Tuli Banerjee, a lecturer of literature at MIT.[33][34] Abhijit and Arundhati had one son together and later divorced.[33] Their son, born in 1991, died in an accident in 2016.

In 2015, Banerjee married his co-researcher, MIT professor Esther Duflo; they have two children.[35][36] Banerjee was a joint supervisor of Duflo's PhD in economics at MIT in 1999.[35][37] Duflo is also a Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at MIT.[38]



  • Aghion, Philippe; Banerjee, Abhijit (2005). Volatility And Growth. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199248612.
  • Banerjee, Abhijit Vinayak; Bénabou, Roland; Mookherjee, Dilip, eds. (2006). Understanding Poverty. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195305203.
  • Banerjee, Abhijit Vinayak (2005). Making Aid Work. Cambridge: MIT Press. ISBN 9780262026154.
  • Banerjee, Abhijit V.; Duflo, Esther (2011). Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty. New York: PublicAffairs. ISBN 9781610390408.
  • Banerjee, Abhijit Vinayak; Duflo, Esther, eds. (2017). Handbook of Field Experiments, Volume 1. North-Holland Publishing Company. ISBN 9780444633248.
  • Banerjee, Abhijit Vinayak; Duflo, Esther, eds. (2017). Handbook of Field Experiments, Volume 2. North-Holland Publishing Company. ISBN 9780444640116.
  • Banerjee, Abhijit Vinayak ( 2019 ). A Short History of Poverty Measurements. Juggernaut Books.
  • Banerjee, Abhijit V.; Duflo, Esther (2019). Good Economics for Hard Times. PublicAffairs. ISBN 9781541762879.


Abhijit Banerjee was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2019 along with his two co-researchers Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer "for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty".[39]

The press release from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences noted: "Their experimental research methods now entirely dominate development economics."[40][41]

The Nobel committee commented:

"Banerjee, Duflo and their co-authors concluded that students appeared to learn nothing from additional days at school. Neither did spending on textbooks seem to boost learning, even though the schools in Kenya lacked many essential inputs. Moreover, in the Indian context Banerjee and Duflo intended to study, many children appeared to learn little: in results from field tests in the city of Vadodara fewer than one in five third-grade students could correctly answer first-grade curriculum math test questions.[41]
"In response to such findings, Banerjee, Duflo and co-authors argued that efforts to get more children into school must be complemented by reforms to improve school quality."[41]

The Nobel Prize was a major recognition for their chosen field - Development Economics, and for the use of Randomised Controlled Trials. It evoked mixed emotions in India, where his success was celebrated with nationalistic fervour while approach and pro-poor focus were seen as a negation of India’s current government’s ideology as well as broader development discourse.[42]

He was awarded the Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) by the University of Calcutta in January 2020.[43]

See also[edit]

  • Amartya Sen, economist and the first Indian to receive a Nobel prize in the field


  1. ^ Duflo, Esther (1999), Essays in empirical development economics. PhD dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  2. ^ Karlan, Dean S. (2002), Social capital and microfinance
    João Leão
    . PhD dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  3. ^ Jones, Benjamin (2003), Essays on innovation, leadership, and growth. PhD dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  4. ^ Qian, Nancy (2005), Three Essays on Development Economics in China. PhD dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  5. ^ a b c "Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee Economics Department MIT". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 14 October 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Economics Nobel for Indian-American | Tribune India". tribuneindia.com. 15 October 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  7. ^ "The Prize in Economic Sciences 2019" (PDF) (Press release). Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. 14 October 2019.
  8. ^ The Hindu Net Desk (14 October 2019). "Abhijit Banerjee among three to receive Economics Nobel". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Javed, Zeeshan; Ghosh, Dwaipayan; Basu, Somdatta. "Abhijit Banerjee moved from Statistical Institute to Presidency". The Times of India. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  12. ^ Bagchi, Suvojit (15 October 2019). "Just happy, says Abhijit Banerjee's economist-mother". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  13. ^ Mazumdar, Jhinuk (15 October 2019). "Abhijit likes cinema, music, cooking & walking: Mother". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  14. ^ Teachers do not die - Dipak Banerjee (1930-2007)
  15. ^ "Abhijit Banerjee Short Bio". Massachusetts Institute of Technology • Department of Economics. 24 October 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Abhijit Banerjee CV". economics.mit.edu. Archived from the original on 14 October 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Abhijit Banerjee – Short Bio". economics.mit.edu. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  19. ^ "MIT economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee win Nobel Prize". MIT News. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  20. ^ Banerjee, Abhijit V; Duflo, Esther (November 2008). "The Experimental Approach to Development Economics". nber.org. National Bureau of Economic Research. doi:10.3386/w14467. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  21. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  22. ^ "Infosys Prize 2009 – Social Sciences – Economics". Archived from the original on 17 May 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  23. ^ "UCLA Anderson Announces 2012 Gerald Loeb Award Winners". UCLA Anderson School of Management. 26 June 2012. Archived from the original on 12 April 2019. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Ban names high-level panel to map out 'bold' vision for future global development efforts". 31 July 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  25. ^ "Bernhard Harms Prize 2014". ifw-kiel.de. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  26. ^ "Make govt jobs less cushy: MIT economist Abhijit Banerjee on 10% quota". Business Standard. 9 January 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  27. ^ "Indian-American Economist Abhijit Banerjee Among 3 Awarded Nobel Prize for Fighting Poverty". News18. 14 October 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  28. ^ Cho, Adrian (14 October 2019). "Economics Nobel honors trio taking an experimental approach to fighting poverty". Science. doi:10.1126/science.aaz7975. S2CID 210377958. Retrieved 16 October 2019. To bring some science to the fight against poverty, the three researchers borrowed a key tool from clinical medicine: the randomized controlled trial. [They] have used trials to test interventions in education, health, agriculture, and access to credit.
  29. ^ "Economics of poverty: On Economic Sciences' Nobel". The Hindu. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  30. ^ "Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer win 2019 Nobel Economics Prize". The Times of India. 14 October 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  31. ^ "Plaksha University". plaksha.org. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  32. ^ Bhagarva, Anjuli (21 March 2022). "Plaksha University aims to challenge IITs, reimagines engineering education". Business Standard. New Delhi, India. Retrieved 23 May 2022. The upcoming Plaksha University reimagines engineering education and prepares students for a digitally powered future.
  33. ^ a b "Malcolm Adiseshiah Award 2001, A Profile: Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee" (PDF). Malcolm & Elizabeth Adiseshiah Trust & Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS). 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  34. ^ "Global Studies and Languages, Biography: Arundhati Tuli Banerjee". MIT. 18 August 2018. Archived from the original on 18 August 2018. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  35. ^ a b Gapper, John (16 March 2012). "Lunch with the FT: Esther Duflo". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 5 November 2018. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
  36. ^ "Esther's baby". Project Syndicate. 23 March 2012. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
  37. ^ "Our focus is to enrol people suffering from lack of identity: Nandan Nilekani". The Times of India. 6 July 2010.
  38. ^ "Esther Duflo CV". Esther Duflo at MIT. 2018. Archived from the original on 9 August 2018. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  39. ^ Johnson, Simon; Pollard, Niklas (14 October 2019). "Trio wins economics Nobel for science-based poverty fight". Reuters.
  40. ^ "The Prize in Economic Sciences 2019" (PDF). Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: Nobel prize. 14 October 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  41. ^ a b c "Nobel Prize in Economics won by Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer for fighting poverty". The Guardian. 14 October 2019.
  42. ^ "The Discontents of a Nobel Prize". The Wire. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  43. ^ Calcutta University Awards Doctor Of Letters Degree To Abhijit Banerjee

External links[edit]