February 24, 2016—Martin Ravallion, professor of economics at Georgetown College, has received a 2015 Frontiers of Knowledge Award from the BBVA Foundation.
The BBVA Foundation engages in the social responsibility causes of the multinational Spanish banking group Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA). Established in 2008, the Frontiers of Knowledge Awards recognize "world-class research and artistic creation that [push] forward the frontiers of the known world."
Given annually, the awards honor achievements in eight areas: basic sciences; biomedicine; ecology and conservation biology; information and communication technologies; economics, finance and management; contemporary music; climate change; and development cooperation. Awardees are evaluated in a two-step process: candidates are first considered by technical evaluation committees and then by juries of internationally reputed experts.
Ravallion received the 2015 development cooperation award for his contributions as "a pioneer in the measurement of poverty using internationally applicable standards." According to the foundation, "the jury cited Lord Kelvin’s phrase to the effect that 'what cannot be measured cannot be improved.' Poverty, it continued, was previously referred to in abstract or subjective terms, 'and there was even reluctance to admit that it could objectively measured.' Now, however, the metrics provided by the [Ravallion's] work, 'have allowed the design of more clearly targeted polices to combat extreme poverty or even aim at its elimination.'"
A member of Georgetown's faculty since 2013, Ravallion held the inaugural Edmond D. Villani chair of economics. Previously, he was director of the World Bank’s research department. Before joining the Bank in 1988, he was on the faculty of the Australian National University. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the London School of Economics, and has taught economics at L.S.E., Oxford University, the Australian National University, and Princeton University. His most recent book, "The Economics of Poverty: History, Measurement and Policy," was published by Oxford University Press in January 2016.