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The Nobel Memorial Laureates in Economics

The Nobel Memorial Laureates in Economics

An Introduction to Their Careers and Main Published Works

Howard R. Vane and Chris Mulhearn

Erudite, accessible and lucidly written, this book provides a stimulating introduction to the careers and main published works of the Nobel Memorial Laureates in Economics. It will prove to be an invaluable reference book on key figures in economics and their path-breaking insights. The vignettes should also encourage the reader to sample some of the Laureates’ original works and gain a better understanding of the context in which new ideas were first put forward.


Howard R. Vane and Chris Mulhearn

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, history of economic thought


THE 1998 NOBEL MEMORIAL LAUREATE AMARTYA SEN AMARTYA SEN Amartya K. Sen (b. 1933) © The Nobel Foundation Amartya Sen was born on a university campus in Santiniketan, near Calcutta, India, in 1933. He comes from an academic family – his father taught chemistry at Dhaka University (now the capital of Bangladesh) – and his maternal grandfather was a teacher of Sanskrit and Indian cultural history. Sen says of himself that he has ‘not had any serious non-academic job’ (Nobel Foundation, 2004). Although he spent time in Dhaka and Burma as a child, Sen’s formative schooling took place in Santiniketan at Visva-Bharati. He remembers that the school had the virtuous emphases of ‘fostering curiosity’ and embracing cultural diversity; and this at a time when India itself was about to descend into a period of sectarian-based communal violence. Sen relates events around the murder of a Muslim man that he witnessed in his family’s predominantly Hindu neighbourhood. The man had simply been looking for work but the search cost him his life. The experience for Sen was ‘devastating’ but it also made him think about the risks that extreme poverty – a form of ‘economic unfreedom’ – can force people to take (Nobel Foundation, 2004). As a nine-year-old, Sen was exposed at first hand to the ‘harrowing scenes’ of the Bengal famine, in which he later estimated almost three million people died. In response to a question about how he became interested in economics, Sen once 266 AMARTYA SEN replied, ‘For someone from India, it is...

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