NBER Reporter: 2015 Number 4

Angus Deaton, Researcher into Consumption,

Won 2015 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences

Princeton University Professor Angus Deaton, a research associate at the NBER for the past three decades, has been awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare

"To design economic policy that promotes welfare and reduces poverty, we must first understand individual consumption choices," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement announcing the award. "More than anyone else, Angus Deaton has enhanced this understanding. By linking detailed individual choices and aggregate outcomes, his research has helped transform the fields of microeconomics, macroeconomics, and development economics."

The academy cited three central questions around which Deaton's work revolves:

•   How do consumers distribute their spending among different goods?
•   How much of society's income is spent and how much is saved?
•   How do we best measure and analyze welfare and poverty?

In his more recent research, the prize committee said, Deaton has highlighted "how reliable measures of individual household consumption levels can be used to discern mechanisms behind economic development. His research has uncovered important pitfalls when comparing the extent of poverty across time and place. It has also exemplified how the clever use of household data may shed light on such issues as the relationships between income and calorie intake, and the extent of gender discrimination within the family."

Deaton's work has built bridges between theoretical and applied economics.

Deaton is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of International Affairs and a professor of economics and international affairs in Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. A native of Scotland, he earned his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Camnbridge, and holds both British and American citizenship.

Since becoming an NBER research associate in 1984, Deaton has authored or co-authored dozens of working papers, the most-recent of which were Suicide, Age, and Wellbeing: an Empirical Investigation, with Anne Case, and Creative Destruction and Subjective Wellbeing, with Philippe Aghion, Ufuk Akcigit, and Alexandra Roulet.

Deaton has been engaged with a broad range of NBER research activities, and is affiliated with seven NBER research programs: Aging, Children, Development, Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Education, Health Care, and Public Economics.

Additional information:

•  Justin Wolfers in The New York Times on Why Angus Deaton Deserved the Nobel Prize
•   The scientific background of the award
•   Video of the prize announcement, as edited by The Wall Street Journal
•   Deaton's papers and articles posted by the NBER

Angus Deaton joins a long list of current and past NBER affiliates who have received the Prize, including: Lars Hansen and Robert Shiller, 2013; Alvin Roth, 2012; Thomas Sargent and Christopher Sims, 2011; Peter Diamond and Dale Mortenson (shared with Christopher Pissarides), 2010; Paul Krugman, 2008; Edward C. Prescott and Finn Kydland, 2004; Robert F. Engle (shared with Clive Granger), 2003; George Akerlof and Joseph E. Stiglitz (shared with Michael Spence), 2001; James J. Heckman and Daniel L. McFadden, 2000; Robert C. Merton and Myron S. Scholes, 1997; Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 1995; Robert W. Fogel (shared with Douglass North), 1993; Gary S. Becker, 1992; and the late George J. Stigler, 1982, Theodore W. Schultz, 1979, Milton Friedman, 1976, and Simon Kuznets, 1971.

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