Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Eight best economists of the next generation

The Economist magazine names the eight best economists of the next generation:

  1. Jesse Shapiro, University of Chicago
  2. Roland Fryer, Harvard University
  3. Raj Chetty, Harvard University
  4. Xavier Gabaix, New York University
  5. Marc Melitz, Princeton University

Clearly, Esther Duflo is the star in the list!

Esther Duflo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) received more recommendations than any other economist. Some who didn’t nominate her thought she was too established to count as “new”.

With her colleague, Abhijit Banerjee, Ms Duflo and Mr Kremer have remade development economics, nudging it away from its concern with policies, towards a preoccupation with projects. They study economic development as seen from the field, clinic or school, rather than the finance ministry. They might be called the “peace corps” of economists, bringing the blessing of their investigative technique to the neglected villages of India or the denuded farms of western Kenya.

Ms Duflo has made her name carrying out randomised trials of development projects, such as fertiliser subsidies and school recruitment. In these trials, people are randomly assigned to a “treatment” group, which benefits from the project, and a “control” group, which does not. By comparing the average outcome of each group, she can establish whether the project worked and precisely how well.

More about Duflo here. She answered my question here in September.