2019 Economics Laureates to Donate Nobel Prize Money to Invest in the Next Generation of Development Economists

December 7, 2019

Award Acceptance

Photo Credit: Getty Images, Jonathan Nackstrand
Economist Andrew Weiss supplements donation with $50 million in funding for research to improve the lives of the poor
Cambridge, MA – December 7, 2019 – Nobel Laureates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo of MIT, and Michael Kremer of Harvard University, 2019 winners of the Sveriges Riksbank Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, announced that they will each donate their Nobel prize money to the Weiss Fund for Research in Development Economics administered by Harvard University. Their 9 million Swedish Kroner (approximately $ 916,000) will supplement $50 million from Child Relief International (CRI), a foundation established by Andrew and Bonnie Weiss.

The donation of Prize monies and the gift from CRI will fund research grants supporting the work of development economists and students through 2035. This investment is, in part, committed to directing research dollars to parts of the world where funding has historically been scarce, and to empowering talented development economists around the world to more effectively pursue their work in addressing critical issues surrounding global poverty.

"These efforts focus on bringing innovative ideas and on-the-ground applications to life to make the world a better place," said Andrew Weiss. "We are delighted to be supporting this work, and to be associated with the Laureates."

Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer were recognized by the Nobel Committee for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty, and the proven ability of these approaches for improving the lives of poor people.

Andrew Weiss, a fund manager and Professor Emeritus of Economics, is himself among the top 1% most cited economists worldwide. Weiss is best known for his impact on the economics of information. His co-authored paper “Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information” with Joseph Stiglitz was prominently featured in the Nobel Prize committee statement for Stiglitz’s 2001 Nobel Prize Award. He and his wife Bonnie have dedicated much of the last fifteen years to fighting poverty through direct support to local program implementers in sub-Saharan Africa. Bonnie has been responsible for identifying particularly effective local implementers who were not yet getting funding from major donors.

Since 2012, The Weiss Fund, administered by Harvard University, has supported research in development economics at select universities in the United States. This injection of new funds will support a global expansion, and the list of institutions being supported will grow significantly to include institutions in Europe as well as the Global South. Going forward, any researcher affiliated with the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD), the development economics groups of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) or the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) will be eligible to apply for funding.

“Opportunities for economic development research can be difficult to come by, especially for people early in their careers, and outside of a few institutions,” said Michael Kremer. “In donating our Nobel Prize money, we’re hoping to create opportunities for more young economists to conduct meaningful research that will make a difference for people living with the challenges of poverty.”

To date, the Weiss Fund has supported research by graduate students and faculty at Boston University, Harvard, MIT, Northwestern University, Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley and Yale University. A wide network of researchers at leading universities around the world, including the Global South, will now be eligible to apply to the Weiss Funds for research grants. Grants will be allocated competitively beginning in late 2020, based on peer review and the merit of individual proposals.

“We truly believe that this Nobel award is an award for the development economics community,” said Abhijit Banerjee, “We are so pleased to apply our funds in this way and open up opportunity for development economists all around the world.”

“This has been such a humbling time,” said Esther Duflo, “As a child, I read about Marie Curie who used the proceeds of her first Nobel prize to buy a gram of radium to further her research. Our field is a collaborative one, so supporting the next generation of economists is our ‘gram of radium’.”