Angus Deaton and Modern Economics
| Peter Klein |
Angus Deaton has won the 2015 Nobel Prize for his work on measuring consumption and inequality. You can find lots of discussion in the usual places; Lynne has a nice summary here. I don’t know Deaton’s work well but he has been on the unofficial short list for the last several years and his work is important and influential for economic growth and development, poverty and health, and related areas.
I can’t help poking a little fun at the economics profession, however. You may have heard the joke that economists used to win the Nobel prize for explaining to the general public something that previously only economists understood, but now they win it for explaining to their fellow economists something that the general public has always known, e.g.:
- Politicians care about themselves (Buchanan).
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket (Markowitz, Miller,and Sharpe).
- You can’t fool all of the people all of the time (Lucas).
- Some people know more than others (Akerlof, Spence, Stiglitz).
Deaton’s major insight: aggregate measures of consumption and inequality conceal important differences among individuals.