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How Development Economics Changes the Lives of the World’s Poorest

Since the Berlin Wall has fallen, the World has made real progress in the fight against extreme poverty: the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined from 1.4 billion then to 800 million today. The number of children dying under the age of 5 every year has been halved. The world can break the wall of global poverty. But this requires not only money but an innovative mindset to identify the most effective policies against the various problems that the poor face in their everyday life, the walls that trap them in poverty. Esther Duflo, a professor and celebrated MIT economist who constantly questions and contests general wisdom in her research, is regarded as one of the most innovative thinkers in the fight against global poverty. Using randomised controlled trials (RCT), a study design adopted from clinical research, she identifies and documents effective measures in the fight against poverty. The Jameel Poverty Action Lab, which she co-founded, has a track record of 859 (and counting) ongoing and completed randomised evaluations in 80 countries. At Falling Walls, Esther presents her ground-breaking approach to eradicating poverty and the insights that this work has given us on how the world’s poor live and what can be done to help them.

Esther Duflo


Esther Duflo is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at MIT. One of the world’s leading economists, she has spent the past 25 years looking for effective remedies to global poverty. In countless field trips and by introducing innovative experiments to her discipline, she seeks to understand the economic lives of the poor with the aim to help design and evaluate social policies. The results of her work have deeply influenced contemporary aid and development strategies and her research has gained her numerous awards and honours, including the McArthur Fellowship and the Princess of Asturias Award for Social Sciences.

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