It has been a good year for economist Esther Duflo, that’s for sure!? Last fall, she won a MacArthur genius grant.? Last Friday, she won the John Bates Clark medal, given to the most influential economist in America under the age of forty.
It was no surprise at all that Esther won the Clark medal.? As I noted in a blog post a year ago, she was the odds-on favorite to win this year’s prize.? (If you are interested in what I thought of Esther when she first came on the academic job market as a freshly-minted Ph.D., follow the link to last year’s post.)
Esther is a development economist who has tried to figure out, more or less, why poor people are poor and what can be done about it. She has been a leader in expanding the use of randomized field experiments by economists.? A randomized field experiment has true randomization like a clinical study in medicine, but is carried out in real-world settings, rather than in a laboratory.? In my opinion, this is one of the most important movements in economics over the last decade. ?(We write at length in SuperFreakonomics about my colleague John List‘s work in that regard.)