Former ESE dean Philip Hans Franses nominated Duflo long before it was announced that she was going to be awarded a Nobel Prize. According to Olivier Marie, she was nominated ‘because her research actually saves lives’. Prof. Duflo’s research focuses on the economic lives of the poorest socioeconomic class, with a special focus on drawing up and evaluating policy. Marie said that Duflo has made a great contribution to the science of economics in that she uses randomised controlled trials, a method borrowed from medical science. In her speech Duflo touched at length on Tinbergen’s legacy in her field of research.
On behalf of Female Academics Moving toward Equity (FAME), Liesbeth Noordergraaf presented RSM-affiliated professor Dianne Bevelander with the annual FAME Athena Award. Among other things, Bevelander founded and manages the Erasmus Centre for Women and Organisations. Furthermore, she established the Women Empowering Women Kilimanjaro Leadership project, as well as the Women in Leadership Executive Open Programmes.
Naturally, the 2019 celebration of the university’s Dies Natalis was marked by the fiftieth anniversary of Jan Tinbergen’s Nobel Prize. EUR-affiliated economist Tinbergen was awarded the prestigious prize in 1969 for his oeuvre. The economist Anne Gielen treated the audience to a brief Tinbergen for Beginners course of sorts, her conclusion being that the lessons taught by Tinbergen might actually do a better job of conveying the university’s values than The Erasmian Way.
In his speech, the Dutch Minister for Finance, Wopke Hoekstra, expressed some concern about trends in the Dutch economy. “New technologies such as artificial intelligence and algorithms will fundamentally change the way we work and live. Now take into account the fact that the Netherlands spends relatively much on public expenditure, is experiencing no more than middling economic growth and has an ageing population, and you’ll have to admit that the future doesn’t necessarily look great. But the situation presents us with opportunities, as well. Thanks to the exceptionally low interest rate and our Triple A rating, we are now in a bizarre situation whereby I, in my capacity as the Minister for Finance, earn money when I borrow money. This being the case, shouldn’t we be investing more in our opportunities to make money in the long term? That’s why we wish to establish an investment fund, to promote economic growth in the long term. In so doing, we will mainly focus on the main requirements for growth: innovation, proper infrastructure and human capital.”
Esther Duflo was not the only person to be awarded an honorary doctorate at the Dies Natalis ceremony. Dani Rodrik, a professor of International Political Economy at Harvard, was also presented with one, on the recommendation of Prof. Mansoob Murshed of the International Institute of Social Studies. Prof. Rodrik’s research currently focuses on jobs and economic growth in both developing countries and countries with highly developed economies.