Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

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The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel (in Swedish Sveriges Riksbanks pris i ekonomisk vetenskap till Alfred Nobels minne), is a prize awarded each year for outstanding intellectual contributions in the field of economics. The award was instituted by the Bank of Sweden (the world's oldest central bank) at its 300th anniversary in 1968. Although it was not one of the awards established in the will of Alfred Nobel, the economics laureates receive their diploma and gold medal from the Swedish monarch at the same December 10 ceremony in Stockholm as the Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, and literature. The amount of money awarded to the economics laureates is also equal to that of the other prizes.

The prestige of the prize derives in part from its association with the awards created by Alfred Nobel's will, an association which has often been a source of controversy. The prize is often incorrectly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics or, more correctly, as the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.

In February 1995, it was decided that the economics prize be essentially defined as a prize in social sciences, opening the Nobel Prize to great contributions in fields like political science, psychology, and sociology. Also, the Economics Prize Committee was changed to require two non-economists to decide the prize each year, whereas previously the prize committee had consisted of five economists.


Award process

The economics laureates, like the Nobel laureates in chemistry and physics, are chosen by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Nominations of about one hundred living persons are made each year by qualified nominators and are received by a five to eight member committee, which then submits its choice of winners to the Nobel Assembly for its final approval. No more than three people can share the prize for a given year. The final award is made in Stockholm, and is accompanied by a prize (10 million Kronor, or roughly 1 million euros as of 2004).


Controversy stems from a few questions:

  1. May its affiliation with the Nobel name, despite not being part of Alfred Nobel's bequest, be justified by the similarity of the award process?
  2. Have there been any systematic political biases?
  3. Is objective evaluation of candidates more difficult for a social science like economics, relative to physics, chemistry, medicine, literature or peace?
  4. Is it true that the most influential economists were awarded the prize in the '70s and early '80s, and that since then the available candidates in the field have been weaker and hence more controversial?

Among the most vocal critics of the economics prize is Peter Nobel who is a peripheral member of the Nobel family – his paternal grandfather's grandmother was one of the daughters of Alfred Nobel's elder brother Ludvig.



Year Name Topics
1969 Ragnar Anton Kittil Frisch (Norway), Jan Tinbergen (Netherlands) for having developed and applied dynamic models for the analysis of economic processes


Year Name Topics
1970 Paul Samuelson (United States) for the scientific work through which he has developed static and dynamic economic theory and actively contributed to raising the level of analysis in economic science
1971 Simon Kuznets (USA) for his empirically founded interpretation of economic growth which has led to new and deepened insight into the economic and social structure and process of development
1972 John Hicks (United Kingdom), Kenneth Arrow (USA) for their pioneering contributions to general economic equilibrium theory and welfare theory
1973 Wassily Leontief (USA) for the development of the input-output method and for its application to important economic problems.
1974 Gunnar Myrdal (Sweden), Friedrich Hayek (UK) for their pioneering work in the theory of money and economic fluctuations and for their penetrating analysis of the interdependence of economic, social and institutional phenomena
1975 Leonid Kantorovich (Soviet Union), Tjalling Koopmans (USA) for their contributions to the theory of optimum allocation of resources
1976 Milton Friedman (USA) for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy.
1977 Bertil Ohlin (Sweden), James Meade (UK) for their pathbreaking contribution to the theory of international trade and international capital movements
1978 Herbert Simon (USA) for his pioneering research into the decision-making process within economic organizations
1979 Theodore Schultz (USA), Arthur Lewis (UK) for their pioneering research into economic development research with particular consideration of the problems of developing countries


Year Name Topics
1980 Lawrence Klein (USA) for the creation of econometric models and the application to the analysis of economic fluctuations and economic policies
1981 James Tobin (USA) for his analysis of financial markets and their relations to expenditure decisions, employment, production and prices
1982 George Stigler (USA) for his seminal studies of industrial structures, functioning of markets and causes and effects of public regulation
1983 Gerard Debreu (USA) for having incorporated new analytical methods into economic theory and for his rigorous reformulation of the theory of general equilibrium
1984 Richard Stone (UK) for having made fundamental contributions to the development of systems of national accounts and hence greatly improved the basis for empirical economic analysis
1985 Franco Modigliani (USA) for his pioneering analyses of saving and of financial markets
1986 James Buchanan Jr. (USA) for his development of the contractual and constitutional bases for the theory of economic and political decision-making
1987 Robert Solow (USA) for his contributions to the theory of economic growth
1988 Maurice Allais (France) for his pioneering contributions to the theory of markets and efficient utilization of resources
1989 Trygve Haavelmo (Norway) for his clarification of the probability theory foundations of econometrics and his analyses of simultaneous economic structures


Year Name Topics
1990 Harry Markowitz (USA), Merton Miller (USA), William Sharpe (USA) for their pioneering work in the theory of financial economics
1991 Ronald Coase (UK) for his discovery and clarification of the significance of transaction costs and property rights for the institutional structure and functioning of the economy
1992 Gary Becker (USA) for having extended the domain of microeconomic analysis to a wide range of human behaviour and interaction, including nonmarket behaviour
1993 Robert Fogel (USA), Douglass North (USA) for having renewed research in economic history by applying economic theory and quantitative methods in order to explain economic and institutional change
1994 John Harsanyi (USA), John Forbes Nash (USA), Reinhard Selten (Germany) for their pioneering analysis of equilibria in the theory of non-cooperative games
1995 Robert Lucas Jr. (USA) for having developed and applied the hypothesis of rational expectations, and thereby having transformed macroeconomic analysis and deepened our understanding of economic policy
1996 James Mirrlees (UK), William Vickrey (USA) for their fundamental contributions to the economic theory of incentives under asymmetric information
1997 Robert Carhart Merton (USA), Myron Scholes (USA) for a new method to determine the value of derivatives
1998 Amartya Sen (India) for his contributions to welfare economics
1999 Robert Mundell (Canada) for his analysis of monetary and fiscal policy under different exchange rate regimes and his analysis of optimum currency areas


Year Name Topics
2000 James Heckman (USA),
Daniel McFadden (USA)
for his development of theory and methods for analyzing selective samples
for his development of theory and methods for analyzing discrete choice
2001 George A. Akerlof (USA), Michael Spence (USA), Joseph E. Stiglitz (USA) for their analyses of markets with asymmetric information.
2002 Daniel Kahneman (Israel/USA),
Vernon L. Smith (USA)
for having integrated insights from psychological research into economic science, especially concerning human judgment and decision-making under uncertainty
for having established laboratory experiments as a tool in empirical economic analysis, especially in the study of alternative market mechanisms
2003 Robert F. Engle (USA), Clive W. J. Granger (UK) for methods of analyzing economic time series with time-varying volatility or common trends
2004 Finn E. Kydland (Norway), Edward C. Prescott (USA) for their contributions to dynamic macroeconomics: the time consistency of economic policy and the driving forces behind business cycles
2005 Robert J. Aumann (Israel/USA), Thomas Schelling (USA) for having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis

External links

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