November 22, 2019
  • 2:52 pm Gregg Semenza 2019 Nobel Prize Winner | Press Conference
  • 12:51 pm Pompeo on Ukraine conversation: I was on the phone call
  • 11:08 am Telephone Call: formal
  • 11:08 am Telephone Call With Relatives | MostlySane
  • 11:07 am President Trump holds rally in Orlando, Florida, live stream
MIT economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee win Nobel Prize (press conference)


[APPLAUSE] That was so wonderful. So welcome to MIT, everyone. And thank you to all who are
with us this morning in person or participating remotely
by the phone bridge or on the live webcast. We’ll begin with a few
introductory remarks from MIT president
L. Rafael Reif. The president will
then introduce Professors Esther Duflo and
Professor Abhijit Banerjee. They’ll speak, after which we’ll
take questions from the room and from our journalists
participating remotely. We’ll provide a few additional
instructions at that point. Thank you so much. President Reif and
Esther and Abhijit. Thank you, Kimberly. And welcome everyone. Good, sunny, beautiful
morning today. I’m delighted to
tell you officially what you already know. This morning, the Royal
Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that MIT’s
Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, along with
their colleague Professor Michael
Kremer of Harvard, have been awarded the
2019’s Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences,
in memory of Alfred Nobel. As the Academy noted
in bestowing the honor, this year’s laureates
have considerably improved our ability to
fight global poverty. In just two decades their
experiment-based approach has transformed
development economics, which is now a flourishing
field of research. In fact, in an interview
this morning, Professor Duflo acknowledged what she described
as a movement of hundreds of researchers who work
to advance solutions in global poverty. The Ford International Professor
of Economics Professor Banerjee joined the MIT faculty in 1993. The Abdul Latif
Jameel a Professor of Poverty Alleviation and
Development Economics Professor Duflo joined the MIT
faculty six years later. In 2003, they teamed
up to co-found the Abdul Latif Jameel
Poverty Action Lab, or J-PAL, a global network of
anti-poverty researchers. J-PAL studies the impact
of local interventions on social problems and
extends successful efforts more broadly. The essence of their
work is to make sure that the global
fight against poverty is based on scientific
evidence, so that policymakers have a systematic way to
understand which interventions work, which do not, and why. By providing an
experimental basis for development economics,
Professor Banerjee and Duflo have reimagined their field
and profoundly changed how governments and
agencies around the world intervene to help
people in poverty. In doing so, they
provide a proud reminder of MIT’s commitment
to bring knowledge to bear on the world’s
great challenges. The institute’s
mission calls on us to use our distinctive grounding
in science and technology to make the world a better
place in service to humanity. That is the definition of J-PAL. Professors Banerjee
and Duflo are the sixth and
seventh individuals to win the Nobel Prize
in Economic Sciences while serving on MIT’s faculty. Will this achievement, they
build on the remarkable legacy of Professors Paul Samuelson,
Franco Modigliani, Robert Solow, Peter Diamond,
and Bengt Holmstrom. MIT economics is known
for its combination of superb economic
talent in a commitment to making a better world. And Abhijit and Esther stand
as a wonderful example of both. We’re deeply proud of our
newest Nobel laureates and the entire
economics department. And on that note, please join me
in welcoming Professors Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo. [APPLAUSE] Thank you. It feels a bit like I walked
onto the set of a wrong movie. [LAUGHTER] I guess the one thing I
wanted to start by saying is that I think– it’s wonderful to
get this prize, but it’s particularly
wonderful, I think, because it’s a
prize not, I think, for us, but also for
the entire movement. I think this is a
movement that we happen to be at the beginning of– I think mostly luck. And if it is going to
be a worldwide movement, there are about
400 professors who are in one form or the other
associated with J-PAL’s work. And they all do randomized
controlled trials on issues as diverse as US
schools in the Appalachia, to governance
problems in Indonesia, and getting children
immunized in India, giving children under bed
nets in sub-Saharan Africa. So this is a movement
that, in some ways, we are kind of the
beneficiaries of. Often in the press people say,
J-PAL’s research has showed. We take great pride in it. We had nothing to do
with the research. We didn’t raise
any money for it. It just happened, and we
got the credit for it. It’s great. [LAUGHTER] We’re in a frontier
economy at this point. But I think it’s still going to
be wonderful for the movement that this prize was given. Because I think it’s going
to make it a little easier to penetrate the many doors
that are half open to us or not quite open
to us, and hopefully bring the message of
policy based on evidence and hard thinking to many
other places as well. The world today is full of
somewhat depressing news, especially in the international
geopolitical stage. And in the middle of
this depressing news, the one hopeful
thing there is is that the fate of
the world’s poor has really tremendously improved
over the last three decades. People don’t tend
to realize that. People in the USA usually
are persuaded that poverty keeps increasing, for example. But the truth is that over
the last three decades, the two groups that did
relatively well in the world’s economy are the ultra
rich and the ultra poor. Why are the ultra
poor doing better? In part, because some
economies are growing fast. In part, also because– in particular, India and China. But in part, also
because the policies that aim to help the poor cope
with the issues that they face have improved. Infant mortality has been
cut in half since 1990. Maternal mortality by
even more than that. And that has
happened in countries that are not
particularly wealthy and even in countries that
have not becoming richer. Even in the poorest
countries, there have been progress on
these important issues. Almost all of the children
go to school, for example. If policy does improve,
largely it’s not because of us, to be honest. But I think that entire movement
that Abhijit talked about has played a small role in
it, in that it has, I think, raised the possibility
and the hope that one could be a little
bit more rigorous about what policies and what type of
things can really help the poor. That goes in two ways. It goes in designing
the policies not based on your intuition or
whatever it happens to be the flavor of the
month, but based on a better understanding of how the
poor live, why they make the choices they make, what are
the specific traps that hold them back, and
what lever to push that could unlock these traps. But also, one grows
also in the way that accepting the possibility
that maybe you didn’t get it right exactly the first
time, and that innovating, experimenting is useful. That is something
that, of course, the two of us– the three
of us, with Michael Kremer– could never have achieved. But that is something
that this entire movement of going at it with a lot of
persistence and lot of details in the big and in the small– and small, small project,
and giant projects– progressively has achieved. And I hope now with J-PAL North
America, and J-PAL Europe, and J-PAL LAC is that some
of this rigor that we tried to develop in the poor
countries moves back up north, and we also improve our
understanding of what our people’s really trouble– our respect for them
and our dignity. And therefore, a better,
more imaginative solution to solve these issues. Abhijit rightly put this
in the broader context of the big movement that is
changing development economics, and is much beyond us. But I want to bring it back
a little bit to the more local environment of MIT. As you know, I’m a MIT
product through and through. Came to do my PhD here. Was hired as an assistant
professor against all norms. [LAUGHTER] Never left. When I made this
choice, many wise people told me that it was an
horrible career move and was probably
leading to perdition. I said, I understand
that it’s not good to stay in your
own institution. But I think this is here that
I have the right environment to pursue what I want to pursue. I’ve not been regretting
this choice [LAUGHTER] for any number of reasons. And so I want to thank,
first of all, the department, from my advisor–
it’s a bit awkward, because it’s one of them. [LAUGHTER] But Josh Angrist, who is the
other one, and Michael Kremer– who I guess makes
it doubly awkward. [LAUGHTER] And also the entire
faculty who taught me, and all of the students
who are with me. And I think together– so this
is a part that Abhijit enjoyed as a student, since he had
the misfortune of being down the road. [LAUGHTER] But we also want to
thank the department for being a wonderful
place to work and to talk about economics. And maybe in particular
Bengt Holmstrom, who I think saw, much before
us, the possibility of the idea we had. The first time we thought
about forming something, he was the chair
of the department. And he told us, we
both vividly remember, you have a product that is
going to make a big difference. I was like, whenever. And sure, can you get us a bit
of money so we hire someone? [LAUGHTER] And then the second
very important person in development of J-PAL and
we want to acknowledge here is Susan Hockfield, who when
she came as president of MIT just before Rafael, met us. In fact, I think just before
she became president, met us. And we explained what
we were working on. And she’s like, oh, you’re
bringing the method of science to social science. This is so refreshing. I’m going to help you. And she was good to her word. And she helped us in many
ways, nurturing, always ready to talk, and
also, quite frankly, putting us in front
of possible donors. And in that, we met, I
think, Mohammed Jameel, who is the third person that
we really want to acknowledge. In the works of J-PAL, Mohammed
Jameel, who saw in us– maybe a little bit like Bengt
and maybe for the same reason that he has business acumen
that none of us really had, who saw in us and in our
project something that could make a
difference and decided to risk his reputation
and his money behind that. This would not have happened
without the ecosystem. This would not have
happened, of course, without his vision and his
commitment for the world’s poor, which was very apparent
then and still apparent today. This is the type of
outstanding people that you want to have
associated with a university. And finally, I think on
behalf of both of us, we want to thank
all the students, the ones who have been our
students forever and who are– some of them are still
in the room today. Some of them are gone
in the wide world, who have formed great big
families and community. And all of the students who are
here who are not our student but make our days exciting every
single morning that we wake up and come here. And all of the
staff of J-PAL, here and worldwide, all
maybe hundreds of them. And in particular, the
leadership and vision of Rachel Glennerster, the first
executive director of J-PAL, and Iqbal Dhaliwal, who
succeeded her when she went on bigger and better things. Thank you very much for coming
here on a Monday of holidays. We deeply appreciate it. [APPLAUSE] So moving. So moving. Thank you so much for
those beautiful remarks. So in addition to those
in this room, like I said, there are many more
participating remotely, by the phone bridge and
by the webcast today. So what we’re going to do just
for the journalists in the room is we’re going to alternate
between the room, the phone bridge, and the webcast. And I have some of the
webcast cards in front of me. So we’re going to try
to accommodate as many of your questions
as we can today. So we can bring you back up. First question from the room. What decided you to pursue
this particular method? At which point did you think
this was a worthwhile method to pursue? I think a combination of– actually, I think by
the time I understood what it takes to get answers
to empirical questions right, I thought the method– and most of that
sounded hokey to me. And most of the work that
was seen as an established truth in 1990– including my own
work, some of it– I thought was a
little bit hokey. And that made it
much more attractive to look for a method
that would give me a little more confidence
in what we were doing. And I think that came out
of mostly frustration, often with myself. As I said, I’m a
student of Josh Angrist. And the way that
I’ve been taught to learn about the
world is, how can you get as close as possible to a
randomized controlled trial? So as soon as I add a little bit
more flexibility, and freedom, and time, I was
like, why do I need to be close to a randomized
controlled trial? Why can’t we just do it? [LAUGHTER] Any more questions from the
room before we go to the bridge? Oh, yes. Right over there. What is your real
belief for education? Our real one or our fake one? [LAUGHTER] Our real belief for
education is as follows. Every kid can learn. But they cannot learn if they
are taught something that is so far away from what they
already know that there is no way they can catch up. Unfortunately,
there are millions and millions and
millions of children who are in school, whose parents
are very excited about school, who themselves are very
excited about school– and get completely discouraged
within days or within weeks, because they don’t
understand what’s going on. Because they have no
reason to understand. Because they are
taught something that is way too
advanced for them. And they are being made to
understand that they are stupid and they will never succeed. We spend a lot of our career
and work on the full pattern that we work with to
try and change that. That’s a great question. Thank you. So we’re going to
very quickly– they’re going to take a question
from the phone bridge. And they’re going to have
to pipe the audio explaining the instructions to the room. So we’re going to
do that right now. My apologies. Thank you. For the audio participants,
it is *1 to ask a question. Do we have our first question? Oh, OK. Can you just
describe in detail– and sorry to go into
this– we’d love to know more about that moment
when you got the phone call. [LAUGHTER] You were more awake than I was. [LAUGHTER] A lot more awake. Can I be transparent? [LAUGHTER] So my phone rang. And I picked it up. And it says, it’s an
important call from Sweden. And I thought to myself,
well, now that you woke me up, just go ahead. [LAUGHTER] And then someone, a
very serious person, told us– they told
me that, you’ve been awarded the full
name of the prize that I don’t yet know. [LAUGHTER] I’ll work on it. And I said, who? Me? And he said that this is
with Professor Banerjee and Professor Kremer. And I said, oh, you
want to talk to him? [LAUGHTER] And so then they talked to him. And then they went
back to us and said, would you be ready for a
press conference in an hour? We should make a cup of coffee. And I really said, I’m
going to go back to bed. [LAUGHTER] And so I woke up. I got up. I got showered, et cetera. And then he went back to bed. I took the press conference. Mind you, they had said
they wanted just one of us. So that was fair enough. And then we started the day. Even said they wanted you,
because they wanted a woman, specifically. And I didn’t qualify. [LAUGHTER] So I actually have a
question from the internet. But I’m going to
let you read it. They sent it in French. They’d like you to answer in
French, if you wouldn’t mind. Should I translate? Or should I read it in
French and answer in French? You should answer in French. But for the room, you
could do it in English. So the question’s, what does
this prize signify for you? [SPEAKING FRENCH] Number one. And number two, is it a
proof that your approach is the right one? [SPEAKING FRENCH] And we have one from the bridge. Is someone there? Hi, can I go ahead? Yes. Great. Congratulations, professors. Could you please
summarize for us what your work means for
governments and institutions who are in a place where they
can intervene in a material way for improving outcomes
among the poor? There’s always a little bit
of hoping for what we do. So it’s not that– I mean, governments are free
to not use our evidence. But to be honest, I think our
experience over the last 20 years has been when you– 20 years ago, you go and
tell somebody in government, we’re going to do a
randomized controlled trial. And they’d look at
you like you had just escaped from some mental
health institution. Now they look at you and say
that, OK, is that expensive? Has anybody else done it? Can you give me an example
of somebody powerful who has endorsed it? But they ask the right
kinds of questions. And we get to the second
base, not always all the way. But at least there is
some sense in which they’re open to the idea
that evidence is valuable, that we know something,
and that might actually be useful to them. Is there another
one in the room? Oh, yes. You’ve already probably answered
this in a different way. But I was just wondering,
just for the layman who may have no idea what you’ve
been doing or familiarity with your work, could
you just sort of explain in layman’s terms what you do? Yeah, let me maybe give you an
example, a concrete example. Maybe that’s the easiest. So we run what’s called
randomized controlled trials. And the objective of
randomized controlled trial is to run an experiment
to see whether something affects something else
the way you expect or in a different way. So I’ll give you an example. Several years ago we
were interested in trying to understand why people do
not immunize their children and what could be done about it. And we spent a lot
of time in India in very remote
places in Rajasthan, where immunization rates
were very, very low, of the order of less than
5% full immunization rate. The prevailing view
at the time was that the main problem was that
immunization services were not reliably available. And that’s why people wouldn’t
get their immunization. And it’s true that immunization
service are not reliably available. Sometimes you walk
for a long time to go to a public health place. And then you arrive
there, and it’s shut. And you have to come back. You’ve lost a day. No immunization. That’s kind of frustrating. And then people
don’t do it again. But because we spend a
lot of time in this place, and we interviewed
people, we realized that another issue is
that people are always busy with other things. And with immunization, if
you don’t do it this month, you can always do it next month. It’s really not
ever an emergency. So it’s never really on top of
the list for people to do it. And the small cost that it means
to go there and get it done might be too high, even
if it’s a very small cost. So we thought, OK, let’s try
and test these two ideas. So we worked with a wonderful
NGO called Seva Mandir. And they, in turn, teamed
up with the government and told the
government, we are going to replace you for an area. And we are going to provide
golden plate immunization services, very reliable
services every month, available at people’s
doorstep in villages. And then on top of that– so what they did is that
they picked 120 villages, randomly– that is, literally
with a random number generator, the modern equivalent of a dice. Picked half of them, and
put in place those services in half of those. And then, out of those
60, again randomly picked 30, where
they provided people with this very small
incentive to show up to the immunization camp. It was a kilo of lentils
per shot and a set of plates when you finish. So they did that. They did that for a year. And what we did is that we
collected data on immunization status before and after. And because the places
were randomly selected, there is nothing different about
them except the intervention. Any difference that we find
can be confidently attributed to the program. So what we found is that in
the status quo villages where nothing particular was
done, immunization rates by the end of the
experiment were 5%. In the places where they
had done the camps but not the small incentive
immunization rate has climbed to
12%, which is good. It’s more than doubling. But in places where
they had, indeed, on top of that, put
the small incentive, immunization rates were 37%. So that gave us the
kind of indication that this was important. And from there, we
go in two directions. In the policy direction,
we pointed out that it’s actually
cheaper to give incentive than not to give incentive. Because the nurse has to
be in the village anyways. And if she immunized more
kids, it’s cheaper per shot. So it’s a good policy to pursue. On the intellectual
side, it sort of got us to think about why is it that
a small incentive can persuade people, when you would think
that it shouldn’t really be pertinent, and got
us to think more about how people make decisions. Is it that– what are they
understanding of the health care system? What are they understanding
of the future and the present and things like that? Which has kind of
spawned a whole agenda on understanding this
type of behavior. So that’s an example,
I should clarify. Now, multiply that
by 1,000, and you have the J-PAL type of work. Anyone from the bridge? Any in the room? Oh, you again. It’s Tom again, yeah. Where do you want to
take your work now? I mean, to be honest, I
think we hope that we’ll get to do more of the same. I think we are actually
quite excited about what we are doing. This was not work that
we did a long time ago. We’re excited about
what we’re doing now. And it’s fun. We are learning new things. I’m really excited to
look at the results from our latest intervention. So I think what I
hope this will do is just open more opportunities
to do more inventive things. But I don’t expect to do
something entirely different. I think I’m content
with what I’m doing, enjoying it very much. I think maybe one thing
that we have started to do– not just us, but them over
here and various people in the network as well– is working with
governments and working at scale with governments
to help them evaluate– both new approaches, but
also better ways to do things that they want to do anyways. So this is our larger project. For example, I gave
you the example of the immunization project,
which was in 120 villages. We are currently analyzing
an immunization project in the state of Ariana
that has 2,000 villages, and where the results
that we are finding will lead to statewide scale-up
of whatever works the best. So that’s kind of one place
in which we are taking it, which is working directly with
government on large scales. And the other place– and I
think that’s, really, again, not just us, but
the entire network– is we are constantly
blown away, literally, by how imaginative
people have become in terms of how they can design
projects which not only help but see what works and what
doesn’t work, but help us understand much better
how people behave, or how governments behave,
or how politicians behave, and with wonderfully
imaginative designs. And we want to do our
best to be part of that, to the extent we can, or
support it to the extent we can. So this question comes from
Julia Hood of Business Insider for you, Professor Duflo. She asks, you are
the second woman to receive the Nobel
Prize in economics. What is your hope
for the profession in terms of inclusion? There are not enough women
in the economic profession, at all levels. There are not enough
undergraduates who choose to take economics. There are not enough graduate
students who continue. There are not enough
assistant professors. There are not enough
tenured faculty. So the reasons why there
are so few women who get the Nobel Prize
or other prizes is not because the people who
give prizes are discriminating against women. It’s because the entire
funnel is just not big enough. And that’s not true just
for women, I should say. It’s true also for minorities. There are not enough
African-American in the economic profession, by
any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it makes woman
look positively numerous. And that has to change. But I think the reason
it’s the case is because– it’s two– maybe I’m wrong. That’s my understanding
of the reasons. One is the climate is a little
bit tough and aggressive. And it doesn’t
work for everybody. And in particular, it’s less
likely to work for women than for others. This is something
that the profession is starting to reckon with,
and that’s wonderful. And I think we’ll get
to the bottom of that. It will take some time. But I think people are much
more aware that it is an issue. I was not aware it was an
issue myself, because I don’t mind aggressive. It doesn’t trouble me. But it troubled a
lot of other people. And that’s unfortunate. And it should not be. And there’s no reason to
be aggressive anyways. The second reason, I
think, is because I think many women do not
think that economics is all that interesting. Because the vision
that economics is is, oh, it’s something
maybe having to do with finance, or big,
macro policy, or whatnot. And it has very little
to do with the problem that I care about,
many women care about. The truth is that’s not true. In fact, a lot of
economics is about– the type of work
we do, obviously. But similar work in public
finance, and labor economics, et cetera, on the US,
on issues that are important– education, health. But people don’t know that. It doesn’t really percolate. And we should also
remember that there are not many Nobel prizes that
has gone to people who mainly work on social problems. And so being a woman
working on social issues, I hope that it can also be
kind of a role model for others to think, look, actually, it’s
pretty interesting, this field. And it’s much more
varied than you think. I just want to
add one piece of– just take pride in
one thing, which is that in our specific,
little corner of economics, the field of
development economics has many more women than almost
any other part of economics. And for example, we
have a seminar series that Harvard and
MIT jointly run. This semester, it
turns out that– I rashly said that all
those speakers are women. And this was not
because of any design. It was simply because
these were the best people. And they were invited
to come give talks. Turned out, I was
slightly wrong. There were actually two men. So I think organically,
it is a field where– consistent with maybe
what Esther said, which is that maybe
some parts of economics are not so interesting to women. We don’t have anything like
a comparable deficit, which I really do want to
take some pride in. Any more questions in the room? All right, we have just a lot
of cards from the internet. Letitia Hernandez with El
Financiero in Mexico, she asks, the United Nations
warns that the pace of the fight against
poverty has fallen, especially in Latin America. What policies should
governments prioritize to have effective results
in reducing poverty? Health, food, education? In some ways, I
think one of the ways in which we distinguish
ourselves is by not answering those questions. [LAUGHTER] I think we’d like to answer
these questions after we do the homework. Having one answer for
all of Latin America based on never
having really studied Latin America, that
would be irresponsible. I don’t think– I think that would
be bad advertisement for our particular
style of work. So that’s to say,
I won’t answer it. [LAUGHTER] OK, so we have another
one, which maybe will be a will not answer. But we’ll ask. So NWA team Bengali
News asks, what is your opinion on the state
of the economy in India? What’s in store for the future? And they ask if you
could answer in Bengali. He has an opinion about this. [LAUGHTER] Yeah. That’s a statement not about
what will work in the future, but about what’s going on now. That I am entitled to have
an opinion about, I feel. [LAUGHTER] The economy is doing
very badly, in my view. One of the numbers
that just came out is the national sample
survey, which comes out every 1 and 1/2 years or so. And it gives you the
average consumption in urban and rural
areas in India. And the fact that
we see in that is that between 2014-15 and
2017-18 that number has slightly gone down. And that’s the first
time such a thing has happened in many, many,
many, many, many years. So that’s a very
glaring warning sign. There’s enormous fight
going on in India about which data is right. And the government
has a particular view of all data that’s
inconvenient to it is wrong. But nonetheless, I think
that this is something that I think even the government
is increasingly recognizing, that there is a problem. So the economy is
slowing very, very fast. How fast, we don’t know, because
there’s dispute over data. But I think fast. He did ask if you could
do some of it in Bengali? No? Sure. OK. [SPEAKING BENGALI] What
can we do about this? OK. Let me do– I’ll say the
whole thing in Bengali and then translate. [SPEAKING BENGALI] So I don’t know
exactly what to do. The government has
a large deficit. But right now, it’s
sort of at least aiming to please
everybody by pretending to hold to some budgetary
targets and monetary targets. And my view is that this is– the economy going
into a tailspin is the time when you
don’t worry so much about monetary stability. And you worry a little
bit more about demand. I think demand is a huge problem
right now in the economy. Thank you. Julia Hood with Business
Insider has a follow up. How does political upheaval,
domestically and globally, impact your work, either
at the research level or in its practical
applications? Does the private sector step in? There are a few
questions in that. She’s referring to the US? Political upheavals. Political upheaval,
domestic or global. Everywhere. I don’t think there is any
direct impact on our work, in the sense that we
can mostly continue doing what we are doing. But there is certainly
an impact in terms of what we think is important
and where we should direct our energies, where we
should try and understand a bit better. When you see the upheaval that
takes place, for example, here, or in France, or in
the rest of Europe, then we feel we should
also start thinking about– is there anything we can bring
to understand these issues? And even if it takes us
slightly outside of the comfort zone of our work until date. We’ll be relying on
all of the expertise that our colleagues have. So I think it’s more a matter
of reorienting our brains, both in terms of
specific kind of issues and even on the
geography of where those issues are concerned. In a sense, it’s kind
of brought home for me– the current problems that
the developed country faces brought home for me that even
when people’s basic material comfort is more or less
sustained by the fact that they live in environment
with reasonable safety net their full life might have
the same level of misery and unhappiness that some of the
extremely poor people we study. And therefore, that is also
something that is worth thinking about very hard. I used to think– and to a large extent,
I still think– I should direct my
energy and thinking about the poorest
person in the world, and then the second poorest
person in the world, and then the third poorest
person in the world. And now I realize
that, although that’s, of course, different to live
in the middle of nowhere, and trying to deliver a child. And it’s not going well. And there is no hospital. That from feeling miserable,
having lost your job in a mining town in a US– one also has to
understand those issues. So building on that
question, Swati [INAUDIBLE] of [INAUDIBLE] Magazine
asks about the trend in de-globalization
and asks specifically, are Brexit, America First, and
several other protectionist campaigns an outcome of
capitalism gone wrong, in your view? [LAUGHTER] Is this a will not answer? Just a small question. [LAUGHTER] So I think they are
a consequence of us not taking the consequences
of globalization seriously. I think globalization
was hurting our– as economists, our presumption
is that that hurt is temporary. And it goes away quickly. Because people react to
that by moving and changing jobs and retraining. We know now that those
processes are slow. And as a result, people
actually get quite badly hurt. So I think it is a
sense in which I would say it’s not so much that– I don’t know whether this means
capitalism went right or wrong. It does mean that I think
the way the policy responds to the pain caused by
globalization was inadequate, often even in the
wrong direction. So I do think that that’s
what it’s partly telling us. And a student from the
internet asks, for you, Professor Banerjee,
what is your feeling about being the sixth Nobel
laureate from Calcutta? [LAUGHTER] Young student. Sixth– I mean, I assume they
are all much more distinguished than me. [LAUGHTER] Any more in the room? Could you share some insight– there haven’t been many couples
that have won this prize. So we’d love to know
more about your work. Do you do a lot of
work at your table? Have you inspired each other? Are there different roles
that you each sort of assume as you work
on these new models? So we have two
children, aged 5 and 7, who believe that they are
the center of the universe. And they do not accept
kitchen table conversation. [LAUGHTER] So that has kind of– the kitchen table
part had to go. Everything else is fair game. So I think we– our work is our life. Our life is our work. There are a lot of
things we love to do. But it turns out you
can do a lot of things we love to do while talking. We did spend a lot
of time cooking. And we can cook and talk
about whatever is happening. We talk while walking
to work and coming back. And we also talk
about the children when we are in
the office at MIT. So I guess it’s like a mix. Anymore from the room
or the phone bridge? All right, we might
be on our last one. It’s another one asking if
you might answer in French. I’m going to– You could try [INAUDIBLE]. I could try. You could do both. It’s from [INAUDIBLE], Canada. [SPEAKING FRENCH] Oh, I
already said that in English. But they want it
in French, I guess. [SPEAKING FRENCH] The next
steps of your research. [SPEAKING FRENCH] And are there any
more in the room? Students? OK, then our last one is going
to be something of a layup, I think, to highlight
your website. So a journalist asks,
how can we learn more about the methodologies to make
randomized controlled trials that will impact our societies? [LAUGHTER] That’ll be nice one to end on. That feels planted. [LAUGHTER] I didn’t plant it. So first, we encourage you to
go to the website of the Poverty Action Lab, where all of our
work and the work of others is described, displayed. So that’s
www.povertyactionlab.org. That sounds really presumptuous,
but we have a book. [LAUGHTER] Well, we have two books. One of them has been
out for some time. And it’s Poor Economics. And it’s a book that builds
on the research of all of the field in development
to try and explain what is our understanding
of the problem of poverty– education, health,
governance, et cetera. It also explains the
methods in a lot of details. So that’s a place. And even more presumptuous, we
have another book coming out in a month, that’s called
Good Economics for Hard Times. And it’s a 300 page
elaboration of what we just discussed today– how the times are hard. And they are hard for
people in much deeper ways than perhaps we had realized. And it turns out that
economics has a lot to say about why the times are
hard and what to do about it. And unfortunately,
again, the vision that people have of
economics is not that. They think economists
are not to be trusted. In fact, the only
people who are less trusted than economists about
their own field of expertise are politicians, both of
which are not very good. And so what we are
trying to do in this book is rely even more on the
research of other people to show what
economists have to say that’s in a more certain and
useful way on the big problems that affect us today. That’s immigration, and
trade, and automation, and the rise of bigotry. And also of course, since
this is our sensibility, on social policy and
what to do about it. So that was the
advertisement plug. [LAUGHTER] Just so it’s been an amazing,
nearly hour long press conference that we’ve
had you up here. So thank you so much for
your patience and time. Just for those– just for
journalists, just a few housekeeping items. Those seeking images or
more information from MIT, the email is [email protected] We’ll get you what you need. You can also look
for us in the room. The faculty will be
here for a little bit doing some one-on-one stand-ups
with some of the cameras. And then the webcast
will be archived online. And we will have an audio
recording of today’s event that we can share with you. Thanks again to all
who could join us. Congratulations. [APPLAUSE] Our event is concluded. Do we have a room
we can take them?

Robin Kshlerin

RELATED ARTICLES

2 COMMENTS

  1. selvanov 0911 Posted on October 17, 2019 at 5:44 am

    Modi deserved it for demonetization. "Hardwork is more important than Harvard" – PM ModiJI.

    Reply
  2. Amit Singh Posted on October 17, 2019 at 5:45 am

    Awesome insights

    Reply
  3. Sojib wajed Posted on October 17, 2019 at 5:51 am

    You are Indian Bangali. You are also the pride of our Bangladeshi people. I am really eager to meet you.

    Reply
LEAVE A COMMENT