University of Chicago Prof. Richard H. Thaler has been awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2017.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences honored Thaler, the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, “for his contributions to behavioural economics,” a relatively new field that bridges the gap between economics and psychology. Thaler’s research investigates the implications of relaxing the standard economic assumption that everyone in the economy is rational and selfish, instead entertaining the possibility that some of the agents in the economy are sometimes human.
“Richard’s original, broadly influential and paradigm-defining work has richly earned this recognition,” President Robert J. Zimmer wrote in a message to the UChicago community. “We look forward to celebrating Richard’s work and his place in the distinguished legacy of eminent economics research at the University of Chicago.”
He is among the 90 scholars associated with the University to receive Nobel Prizes, and among the 29 who have received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. In addition to Thaler, five current UChicago faculty members are Nobel laureates in economics: Profs. Eugene Fama and Lars Hansen (who won in 2013), Roger Myerson (2007), James Heckman (2000) and Robert E. Lucas Jr. (1995).
Thaler learned of the award after his cell phone rang at 4 a.m. The phone number was from Sweden, so “I had a pretty good idea what that might be,” he said Monday. The award was particularly meaningful because behavioral economics was “really out in the wilderness 40 years ago,” when Thaler began his research.
“It’s been a long journey,” he said, “so I’m happy about that.”