Nepali-American wins globally acclaimed young-economist award

  • Economic Contribution
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Apr 22, 2018-Parag Pathak, a young American economist of Nepali origin, has won the prestigious John Bates Clark Medal 2018 from the American Economic Association (AEA), bolstering his chances of becoming a Nobel laureate in future.

The medal is awarded annually to an American economist under the age of 40, who has made significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge. One in three recipients of the medal goes on to win the Nobel Prize in economics, according to Bloomberg.

Pathak, 37, a microeconomics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was given the award for his work on market design and education policy, says the AEA website. His applied work in market design, according to the AEA, has led to significant improvements in the “application of market-design tools to the assignment of students to public schools”.

Pathak’s research basically suggests that school choice can lead to improved student performance, Bloomberg says.

His studies show that charter schools, which receive grants from the government to educate children, enhance student attainment, and urban charter schools have the potential to generate impressive achievement gains, especially for minority students living in high-poverty areas. Pathak has also carried out convincing analyses of different policies designed to improve secondary education.

The policy advises provided by Pathak, using innovative and sophisticated empirical and theoretical techniques, have been central to policy debates and positively influenced lives of over one million public school students, AEA says.

Pathak was born in New York to Kamal Pathak, a medical doctor, and Jyoti Pandey Pathak, both of whom emigrated to the US from Nepal in the 1970s. Pathak, who has two siblings, Sapana Adhikari Pathak and Rachana Pathak, grew up in Corning.

Pathak, who attended a public high school in New York, received his Bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Harvard University in 2002, and a Master’s degree in the same subject the same year. He received his PhD in economics from Harvard in 2007.

Pathak joined the MIT faculty as an assistant professor in 2008, according to MIT News. “He was awarded tenure in 2011 and became a full professor in 2014.” He is now the Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Professor of Microeconomics in the MIT Department of Economics.

“Pathak’s area of study, which is known as mechanism design or market design, is on the cutting edge of modern economic analysis of markets and institutions. It takes engineering approach to economics to tackle public policy issues,” says Ashutosh Tiwari, founder and managing director of Safal Partners, who studied in Harvard and knows Pathak and his family.

Pathak, according to Tiwari, had shown signs of becoming a very successful scholar when he became a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows. The Harvard Society of Fellows is a group of scholars selected at the beginning of their careers by the Harvard University for extraordinary scholarly potential, upon whom distinctive academic and intellectual opportunities are bestowed in order to foster their individual growth and intellectual collaboration, says Wikipedia.

“If Pathak builds on this success he can become a Nobel laureate in the next 20 years,” says Tiwari.

Former winners of John Bates Clark Medal, among others, include Milton Friedman and Paul Krugman, who later won the Nobel Prize in economics.

Published: 22-04-2018 08:47

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