A Conversation with 2019 Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Kremer at USAID
In 2019, leading economists, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) along with Harvard University’s Michael Kremer shared the Nobel Prize for economics for developing methods to best tackle poverty in the developing world. The research began in India, where Banerjee and Duflo were eager to find a way to lessen the disparities between children. They decided to reorganize the public school system by learning level as opposed to age or grade and as a result, children benefitted from this method of differentiated learning. Similarly, Michael Kremer also worked in public schools. In Kenya, Kremer experimented with several approaches with the intention of raising educational standards.
Through Kremer's research, he found that more textbooks per students did not improve average test scores but did improve test scores of students that already had a high aptitude for learning. "Michael Kremer’s path-breaking work not only opened up new ways to think about development economics, it has helped alleviate poverty for millions around the world and shown the power of economics to make a tangible, positive difference in people’s lives,” said Harvard President Larry Bacow. Kremer's findings are only the beginning of addressing disparities in education systems.
Michael Kremer with USAID hosted an event at the Ronald Reagan Building International Trade Center Amphitheatre on February 3, 2020. At the event, Kremer discussed his research in Kenya as well as how the results can benefit other developing countries and education. He stressed the importance of also addressing other reasons for disparities in education including health and funding. Kremer continues to teach at Harvard where he is the Gates Professor of Developing Societies in the Department of Economics.