Table of Contents

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.

Chapter 33: THE 2001 NOBEL MEMORIAL LAUREATES GEORGE AKERLOF, MICHAEL SPENCE AND JOSEPH STIGLITZ

Howard R. Vane and Chris Mulhearn

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

Extract

THE 2001 NOBEL MEMORIAL LAUREATES GEORGE AKERLOF, MICHAEL SPENCE AND JOSEPH STIGLITZ GEORGE AKERLOF George A. Akerlof (b. 1940) © The Nobel Foundation George Akerlof was born in New Haven, Connecticut, USA in 1940. Akerlof’s father, a chemist, held academic and research posts at, among others, Yale University – where he met his future wife (a chemistry graduate student) – and Princeton University. His elder brother followed their father into a career in science but Akerlof developed an interest in social matters such as ‘history and, if children can have such interests, economics’ (Nobel Foundation, 2004). Akerlof recalls that one of his first significant thoughts about the discipline came at the age of 11 or 12 when, prompted by his father’s move from one post to another, he speculated about the wider consequences of his father becoming unemployed and the family having to cut back on its spending. If this caused another father to lose his job, spending to fall further and so on, the economy could falter. Thus Akerlof’s professional commitment to Keynesian macroeconomics was prefigured in pre-adolescent reflections about the interdependency of families in their contribution to the maintenance of aggregate demand. Akerlof attended Yale as an undergraduate and was awarded a BA in mathematics and economics in 1962. In 1966 he received his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His PhD thesis developed themes that were Akerlof’s first attempts ‘to base 292 GEORGE AKERLOF Keynesian economics on sound microeconomic foundations’ (Nobel Foundation, 2004). Perhaps even...

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