Monday, August 22, 2011

Ester Duflo, economics and rock-climbing

Rock-climbing and economics might not seem like obvious bed-fellows but when you read what Ester Duflo has to say you wonder how you never put them together before.
Ester Duflo

In an interview with an English newspaper, the journalist asks why she climbs. You get the feeling she thinks this is like asking her why she breathes when she says: "You have to be deliberate and patient, and confident you can make it. Otherwise it is a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you think a climb is too hard it will become too hard."

Tipped as a future winner of the Nobel Prize for economics, Duflo is taking a fascinating approach to the slightly large problem of solving world poverty. I'm not kidding. The Frenchwoman's research into how poverty functions in villages in India, Ghana and Kenya is hoping to find why some development programmes fail while others succeed. 

Duflo climbs in the Alps, and has done some climbs in Kenya - Mount Kenya - and Tanzania - Kilimanjaro. And uses the climb as a break from her day-job, saying "You need to be entirely focused on what you are doing at that instant. Completely absorbed. So I can’t be thinking about economics."

Of course, why else would you swing from a mountain? She lectures at MIT and has co-written 'Poor Economics' described by the author of Freakonomics (note, one of the few economics books I understood!) as "a must-read".

Another version of play hard, work hard? 



Running Candid said...

This is great. What a great role model - very inspirational, and interesting combination of sport and economics. I hope she wins that Nobel Prize.

niamh said...

@Running Candid - a whole new way of looking at rock-climbing