BFI NewsOct 09, 2017

Chicago Booth’s Richard Thaler Awarded Nobel Prize in Economics

Richard Thaler, the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, was awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for 2017. University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer said Thaler’s “original, broadly influential, and paradigm-defining work has richly earned this recognition.”

In announcing the award, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Thaler’s historic role in building the field of behavioral economics, noting that his “contributions have built a bridge between the economic and psychological analyses of individual decision-making.” Thaler’s work has challenged classical ideas about what motivates the behavior of individuals in the economy, and forged new understanding of behavior in domains ranging from household finances to issues of national policy. His books include Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics (2015) and Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness (2008), which explored how the concepts of behavioral economics could be used to address major societal problems and influence public policy.

BFI’s leadership offered its praise of Professor Thaler and his contributions to the economics profession and society:

“Richard Thaler has fundamentally altered our understanding of the world by demonstrating that people are much more than just robots following simple mathematical rules. In addition, his research has had great influence as governments have sought to find policies that serve human beings as they really are, not as they might be.” Michael Greenstone, Director, BFI

“Dick Thaler has helped to create the field of behavorial finance. By taking insights from pscyhology and applying them to a wide variety of economic questions, Dick has fundamentally deepended our understanding of individual consumer choice. The fact that his work has so penetrated the business and policy worlds speaks to both the lasting and practical importance of his work.” Erik Hurst, Deputy Director, BFI

A leading behavorial economist, Richard Thaler found his way into a “then-nonexistent field” and came to study irrational economic behavior at UChicago, the home of efficient markets and rational expectations.