When Ms Esther Duflo was six years old, she read a comic book that said the city of Kolkata was so miserably crowded that each person had only 10 sq ft to live in. She imagined a checkerboard with each person confined to a 3 sq ft space. When she visited the city years later, she saw patches of grass and empty pavements, not the misery she had expected.
On Monday, Ms Duflo, her husband Abhijit Banerjee, and Mr Michael Kremer won the Nobel Prize in Economics, in part for treating poor people not as comic-book cliches to be admired or pitied, but as complex individuals facing difficult choices. Much of the couple's research was done in India, as detailed in their seminal book Poor Economics.