5 Facts About The Nobel Marriage of Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo

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Nobel Marriage of Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo

After Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee got an early morning phone call that he and wife Esther Duflo were awarded the ‘The Sveriges Riksbank Prize’ in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, informally known as ‘The Nobel Memorial Prize’ in Economic Sciences along with Michael Kremer, he had gone back to sleep. Yes, he actually managed to do that, although Esther didn’t.

When asked how the Nobel win changes his life Banerjee said: “More opportunities will come to us and new doors will open. But nothing changes for me that way. I like my life.”

On the contrary wife, Esther Duflo told the BBC,”We will put it [the money] to good use and make the best of it in our work. But this is way beyond the money. The influence that this prize will have will give us a megaphone. We will really try to make good use of that megaphone to amplify the work of everyone who works with us.”

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From their interactions with the media after the Nobel Prize win, we have deduced that Abhijit Banerjee is the chilled out spouse in the marriage and she is the go-getter although this takes nothing away from their knowledge or the work they have done together.

Esther and Abhijit seem to be two very different people whose marriage has worked wonders both personally and professionally.

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5 Facts About The Marriage of Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo

Their love for economics binds them but they are different in many ways. Although Esther loves Indian food she grew up on pasta, something Abhijit is adept in cooking now. What makes this amazing couple tick? We tell you.

1. She climbs mountains, he plays tennis

Although Abhijit calls themselves nerds and they are voracious readers with a number of books and papers to their credit, they both are outdoors people.

Esther and Abhijit are different and similar in many ways Image source

She loves climbing mountains when she is not doing experiments in her economics lab. “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,” is what she says about rock climbing.

As his tall, lithe frame gives away, Banerjee is an ace tennis player and enjoys a game at the court immensely.

Both aren’t too fond of the idea of holidaying by the sea, and Esther says if they ever went she would end up taking up books on economics to read on the beach. They would rather mix work and pleasure and travel to India.

2. Travel means visiting villages of India and Africa

Alleviation of poverty is their work interest and that has also fetched them the Nobel Prize. They have experimented with aspects of education and social life in rural pockets in countries like India and Africa.

They are usually travelling to these countries often to see if their experiments are working out. They are both at their happiest when travelling for work and making an impact.

Esther interacting with people in India  Image source

3. She believes she is not funny, but he is

Esther Duflo could start a speech saying, “’I’m short. I’m French. I have a pretty strong French accent.” But if you ask her if she has a sense of humour she would say, “Probably not.” But anyone who has interacted with her would vouch for her subtle sense of immensely intelligent humour.

Neither does Banerjee wear his sense of humour on his sleeves but when he starts a speech saying, “This is like walking into the film sets…” then you know he has it in oodles.

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4. He’s the official cook but she tosses up the occasional delicacies

Apparently Banerjee has 200 recipes at his fingertips, some mouthwatering Bengali ones too picked up from his mother. He does the daily cooking at home while she is the hands-on mom to their two kids aged 7 and 5.

He cooks cooks everyday she tosses up the delicacies Image source

Although Esther is a foodie who dotes on her hubby’s culinary skills she is adept at the kitchen too, provided she can leaf through a cookbook and keep it on the kitchen table while cooking. She is in love with the Bengali delicacy Hilsa fish and has mastered the technique of deboning it.

5. Their differences are their strength

Duflo and Banerjee come from starkly different backgrounds. She is French and he is an Indian. Theirs is also an age-gap marriage where Esther is 46, making her one of the youngest Nobel Laureates, and Abhijit is 58.

She did her PhD under him and that’s when Cupid struck. She joined him in his work after building up her own credentials. Both the husband and the wife have CVs that run into pages and pages.

There was always a buzz in economic circles that Esther would win the Nobel Prize, her joining hands with Abhijit Banerjee made their possibilities stronger.

At home though, the parents are not allowed to talk economics by the kids. They can only whisper a bit in the kitchen if some urgent thing comes up.

They say that their marriage is like anybody else’s. But now probably it isn’t. You won’t find two Nobel Laureates staying under the same roof in many homes. Would you?




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