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Brazilian research and Nobel Prize in Economics: connections

      The French Esther Duflo, the Indian Abhijit Banerjee and the American Michael Kremer won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2019. The prize was awarded by the  relevant work through an “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”. According to the Nobel committee, their research “has considerably improved our ability to fight poverty in the world. In two decades, the experience of the awardees transformed the economics of development”.

      Esther Duflo is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the second woman to receive the award. According to the UN and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), poverty affects more than 700 million people and the forms of deprivation are not restricted to  income, but access to services and rights, such as education, health and sanitation. The Swedish academy also stressed that “despite recent improvements, one of the greatest challenges facing humanity remains the reduction of poverty in the world, in all its forms”.

      In TEDtalk held in 2010, Dulfo states that “we still can't eradicate poverty, but we can start with what we know is effective. (...) We need research to assess the effectiveness of the proposals, we need it to guide public policies”.  Dulfo holds a degree from the Escola Normal Superior and the School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences in Paris and a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the United States, where he works. She leads the Abdul Latif Jameel Research Laboratory on Poverty Alleviation, which she co-founded in 2003. Her work is based on field experiences in partnership with several universities, such as Harvard University, as well as non-governmental organizations.

      Among the studies developed by Esther Duflo is the one carried out in India, together with Elizabeth Spelke and other authors, published in 2017 in the relevant scientific journal Science, under the title  “Cognitive Science in the Field: A Preschool Intervention Durably Enhances Intuitive But Not Formal Mathematics”. This work triggered new intervention and research projects, such as the one being carried out in Brazil by the Interdisciplinary Laboratory of Human Neurodevelopment (LINHA), coordinated by professors Nara Andrade (UCSAL) and Chrissie Carvalho (UFSC), in collaboration with professor Elizabeth Spelke from Harvard University.

    The project “Intervention to improve school readiness of socially vulnerable children in Brazil”, funded by the Lemmann Foundation, is creating, implementing and evaluating a game-based curriculum at municipal early childhood education centers in Salvador. This project focuses on socially vulnerable populations and has the support of the Municipal Secretariat of Salvador.  It aims to reduce inequalities, encouraging school readiness, an essential part of the “learning to learn” process, in addition to encouraging the development of socio-emotional skills.