Abhijit Banerjee

Co-founder and co-director, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

Abhijit Banerjee is the the co-founder and co-director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a research centre supporting scientifically informed policy-making to reduce global poverty. Prior to co-founding J-PAL in 2003 with Esther Duflo, Abhijit taught at MIT’s department of economics, where he is now the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics, at Harvard University and at Princeton University. He is also scientific director of J-PAL Europe and is a member of J-PAL’s executive committee. He previously served as co-chair of J-PAL’s Education Sector.

A specialist in economic theory and development economics, Abhijit’s work evaluates effective policies to alleviate global poverty. He is the author and editor of numerous articles and books, including Making aid work, Poor economics: A radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty, co-authored with Esther Duflo, which won the Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year in 2011 and Good economics for hard times, which won the Deutscher Wirtschaftsbuchpreis Best Business Book of the Year in 2020.

In 2019, Abhijit was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics alongside Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer for their “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”.  His work has also been recognised by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy Bernhard Harms Prize (2014), The Social Science Research Council Albert O. Hirschman Prize (2014), Gabarron International Award for Economics (2013), the Infosys Prize in Social Sciences and Economics (2009) and the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award for Development Cooperation (2009).

Beyond economics, Abhijit’s work encompasses information theory, health, politics, film and food. He is the author of a collection of recipes, Cooking to save your life (2021) and he has directed two documentary films, The name of the disease (2006), which explores the experience of the poor and sick in rural India and The magnificent journey: Times and tales of democracy (2019), which chronicled the recent political history of democratic India.

Abhijit took a bachelor of science degree from the University of Calcutta in 1981, followed by a master’s from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, before obtaining his doctorate from Harvard University in 1988. He is a trustee of the British Museum and Save the Children USA, as well as co-chair of the World Bank’s global education evidence advisory panel. He formerly served on the United Nations secretary-general’s high-level panel of eminent persons on the post-2015 development agenda.

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