Mme Duflo is the youngest woman ever to be asked to lecture at this prestigious, 500-year-old institution at the heart of the Left Bank. Her introductory talk was the hottest (free) ticket in town. Several hundred people, including the former prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, arrived too late and were locked out.
Mme Duflo is a “development economist” one of the world’s greatest experts – perhaps the greatest – on why development programmes in poor countries often fail and why they sometimes succeed. Her precise field of expertise has existed less than a decade. She is among its inventors.