Economics Nobel Winner Strong Critic of India’s Poverty Line

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

 Angus Deaton, the Scottish-American Princeton professor who won the Economics Nobel on Monday "for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare", has a strong India connect with several of his academic papers and articles focused on the country and based on data collected here. Deaton (69) has worked with Jean Dreze of Delhi School of Economics, Abhijit Banerjee of MIT and Jishnu Das of World Bank on areas like poverty, healthcare, nutrition, etc. Even his homepage on Princeton website lists 'Poverty in the world and in India' as one of the Nobel winner's main areas of research. 

It's not only collaboration with Indians and on India, the Princeton professor even had a tiff with Arvind Panagariya, former Columbia University professor and now the deputy chief of Niti Aayog, about the reasons behind the shorter height of Indian children compared to the global average. Deaton is also a harsh critique of the measure of poverty line used by the Indian government that was a hot topic two years ago. 

One of Deaton's leading works, along with MIT's Banerjee and Esther Duflo, and Das from World Bank, was based on a healthcare-related survey of tribal households in Udaipur, then one of the poorest districts in the country. In 2002 and 2003, Deaton and others worked on a survey-based project titled 'Health Care Delivery in Rural Rajasthan'. Seva Mandir, an Udaipur-based NGO that works for integrated rural development in the district, was involved in the project as the local facilitator and coordinator. 

According to Priyanka Singh, CEO, Seva Mandir, Deaton visited Udaipur twice and had gone to the villages to have first-hand experience of the situation there. "He was very sound on subjects of nutrition and health. During interactions, we found he could explain difficult things in a very simple way," said Singh. The Princeton professor worked very closely with those who were on the ground for the survey, she said, adding that he always paid careful attention to what questions to ask and how to ask. 


Source: The Times of India (link opens in a new window)

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