The Nobel Prize Committee has awarded the 2015 Nobel in Economic Sciences to Angus Deaton of Princeton University, “for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare.”
Deaton, 69, was born in 1945 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He holds both U.S. and British citizenship.
Reached by phone after the award was announced in Stockholm, Sweden. Monday morning, Deaton said, “I’m absolutely delighted” to win — and for someone who has focused on the world’s poor to be recognized with the prestige of a Nobel.
Deaton has worked at Princeton since the early 1980s; his accomplishments include creating, along with John Muellbauer, the Almost Ideal Demand System in 1980, in which they opened a new door in researching consumer behavior.
The full name of the award is the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences. Deaton won, the committee says, for asking three key questions:
- 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 addition to his work on the Almost Ideal Demand System, the Nobel Committee also cited Deaton’s recent focus on developing countries, and his goal of understanding the dynamics of poverty. Much of that work has relied on household consumption surveys rather than income data.
Deaton’s use of household surveys “has helped transform development economics from a theoretical field based on aggregate data to an empirical field based on detailed individual data,” the committee says.
For a number of years, Deaton has also written a wide-ranging Letter From America feature for the Royal Economic Society. Sample headlines: “America wakes up to inequality (again),” and “The unequal benefits of teaching.”
Last year’s winner of the economics Nobel was Jean Tirole, “for his analysis of market power and regulation.” The French economist, born in 1953, is the author of several influential texts, including 1988’s The Theory of Industrial Organization.