NBER Reporter: 2017 Number 4

Richard Thaler Won Nobel Prize in Economic

Sciences for Research on Behavioral Economics

Richard Thaler

Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, an NBER research associate for more than 25 years, was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to behavioral economics.

The Royal Swedish Academy' of Sciences' announcement of the prize explains that "Thaler has incorporated psychologically realistic assumptions into analyses of economic decision-making. By exploring the consequences of limited rationality, social preferences, and lack of self-control, he has shown how these human traits systematically affect individual decisions as well as market outcomes....

"His empirical findings and theoretical insights have been instrumental in creating the new and rapidly expanding field of behavioral economics, which has had a profound impact on many areas of economic research and policy."

The Academy cited many settings in which behavioral insights have enriched economic analysis and policy design, including the study of household saving, the formation of prices in financial markets, the role of fairness in setting wages and prices, and the use of "nudges" to influence consumer behavior. The Academy's description of the ways in which Thaler's work has been applied may be found here .

A longer summary of the scientific contributions that underlie this award may be found here.

Thaler is the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and Behavioral Science at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, as well as a research associate in the NBER's Asset Pricing Program. In 1992, he and Robert Shiller launched the NBER Working Group on Behavioral Economics, which has served as an important forum for researchers working in this field. He served as co-director of that group until 2016.

Thaler joins a group of 26 current or past NBER research affiliates who have received the Nobel Prize:
Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström, 2016;
Angus Deaton, 2015;
Lars Hansen and Robert Shiller, 2013;
Alvin Roth, 2012;
Thomas Sargent and Christopher Sims, 2011;
Peter Diamond, 2010;
Paul Krugman, 2008;
Edward C. Prescott and Finn Kydland, 2004;
Robert F. Engle, 2003;
Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2001;
James J. Heckman and Daniel L. McFadden, 2000;
Robert C. Merton and Myron S. Scholes, 1997;
Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 1995;
and the late:
Dale Mortensen, 2010;
Robert W. Fogel, 1993;
Gary S. Becker, 1992;
George J. Stigler, 1982;
Theodore W. Schultz, 1979;
Milton Friedman, 1976;
and Simon Kuznets, 1971.
In addition, six current or past members of the NBER Board of Directors have received the Nobel Prize:
George Akerlof, 2001;
Robert Solow, 1987;
and the late:
William Vickrey, 1996;
Douglass North, 1993;
James Tobin, 1981;
and Paul Samuelson, 1970.

NBER papers by Richard Thaler

News reports of Thaler's selection:

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post

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