Michael Clemens at the Center for Global Prosperity congratulates Esther Duflo for winning this year’s John Bates Clark Medal, awarded to the “American economist under the age of forty who is judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge.”
In the field of economics, the Clark medal is second only to the Nobel prize, and 40 percent of the winners have gone on to win the Nobel prize.
As a leader of the “credibility revolution,” Duflo works to bridge the gap between research and policy by promoting the use of randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
Although economists such as Angus Deaton and Bill Easterly criticize over-reliance on RCTs, the medal represents success for the entire development economics field. Of the 32 Clark medals that have been meted out, the first 28 went to non-development economists; however, two out of the last four have been rewarded to development economists.
Clemens thinks that this represents a shifting focus in economics toward bettering the world we inhabit, and we concur.