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The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics ( ), is an award for outstanding contributions to the science of economics and is generally considered one of the most prestigious awards for that science. The official name is the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel ( ). It is not actually one of the Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel during 1895, but is commonly identified with them.The Prize in Economics, as it is referred to by the Nobel Foundation, was established and endowed by Sveriges Riksbankmarker, Sweden's central bank, during 1968 on the Bank's 300th anniversary, in memory of Alfred Nobel's 1895 will.Like the Nobel Laureates in Chemistry and Physics, Laureates in Economics are selected by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.It was first awarded during 1969 to the Dutch and Norwegian economists Jan Tinbergen and Ragnar Frisch, "for having developed and applied dynamic models for the analysis of economic processes." "Jan Tinbergen" (2007), in Encyclopædia Britannica, accessed November 16, 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: .[ "Ragnar Frisch"] (2007), in ''[[Encyclopædia Britannica]]'', accessed November 16, 2007, from ''Encyclopædia Britannica Online'': .

Funding of the Prize

An endowment "in perpetuity" from Sveriges Riksbank pays the Nobel Foundation's administrative expenses associated with the prize and funds the monetary component of the award.Since 2001, the monetary portion of the Prize in Economics has been 10 million Swedish kronor (during January 2008, approx. US$1.6 million; 1.1 million Euro), equivalent to the amount given for the Nobel Prizes.Since 2006, Sveriges Riksbank has given the Nobel Foundation an annual grant of 6.5 million Swedish kronor (in January 2008, approx. US$1 million; 0.7 million Euro) for its administrative expenses associated with the prize as well as 1 million Swedish kronor (until the end of 2008) to include information about the prize in the Nobel Foundation's internet webpage.

Relation to the Nobel Prize

The nomination process, selection criteria, and awards presentation of the Prize in Economic Sciences are performed in a manner similar to that of the Nobel Prizes. The Prize is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences "in accordance with the rules governing the award of the Nobel Prizes instituted through his [Alfred Nobel's] will", which stipulates that the prize is awarded annually to "those who ... shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind".The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel is the only non-Nobel prize that has ever been associated officially with the Nobel Foundation. The next time a similar offer was made — an offer by Jakob von Uexkull, who subsequently established the Right Livelihood Award — the offer was declined.

Award nomination and selection process

Announcement of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences 2008

According to its official website, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences "administers a researcher exchange with academies in other countries and publishes six scientific journals. Every year the Academy awards the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry, the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, the Crafoord Prize and a number of other large prizes".

Each September the Academy's Economics Prize Committee, which consists of five elected members, "sends invitations to thousands of scientists, members of academies and university professors in numerous countries, asking them to nominate candidates for the Prize in Economics for the coming year. Members of the Academy and former laureates are also authorised to nominate candidates." All proposals and their supporting evidence must be received before February 1. The proposals are reviewed by the Prize Committee and specially appointed experts. Before the end of September, the committee chooses potential laureates. If there is a tie, the chairman of the committee casts the deciding vote. Next, the potential laureates must be approved by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Members of the Ninth Class (the social sciences division) of the Academy vote in mid-October to determine the next laureate or laureates of the Prize in Economics. As with the Nobel Prizes, no more than three people can share the prize for a given year; they must still be living at the time of the Prize announcement in October; and information about Prize nominations cannot be disclosed publicly for 50 years.

With the Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature, each Laureate in Economics receives a diploma, gold medal, and monetary grant award document from the King of Sweden at the annual Nobel Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholmmarker, on December 10—the anniversary of Nobel's death.

Changes to the prize

Sylvia Nasar wrote in her book A Beautiful Mind that during February 1995, after acrimony pertaining to the awarding of the 1994 Prize in Economics to John Forbes Nash, the Prize in Economics was redefined as a prize in social science, making it available for researchers of such topics as political science, psychology, and sociology. Moreover, the composition of the Economics Prize Committee changed to include two non-economists. This has not been confirmed by the Economics Prize Committee. The members of the 2007 Economics Prize Committee contradict Nasar's claim since the secretary and 4 of the 5 members are professors of economics.One should note, however, that Herbert Simon was the first non-economist to win the prize during 1978 (his PhD was in political science, though his influence on economics is well-known).

Controversies and criticisms

Some critics argue that the prestige of the Prize in Economics derives in part from its association with the Nobel Prizes, an association that has often been a source of controversy. Among the most vocal critics of the Prize in Economics is the Swedish human rights lawyer Peter Nobel, a great-grandnephew of Alfred Nobel.

Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal (who was a recipient of the prize himself) and former Swedish minister of finance Kjell-Olof Feldt have also advocated that the Prize in Economics should be abolished. Myrdal's position of wanting the prize abolished was based in the fact that it had been given to such "reactionaries" as Friedrich Hayek (whom Myrdal shared the 1974 Prize in Economics with) and afterwards to Milton Friedman in 1976.

In his speech at the 1974 Nobel Banquet Friedrich Hayek stated that if he had been consulted whether to establish a Nobel Prize in economics he would "have decidedly advised against it" for two reasons, the most of which being "that the Nobel Prize confers on an individual an authority which in economics no man ought to possess." He stated: "This does not matter in the natural sciences. Here the influence exercised by an individual is chiefly an influence on his fellow experts; and they will soon cut him down to size if he exceeds his competence. But the influence of the economist that mainly matters is an influence over laymen: politicians, journalists, civil servants and the public generally."

Critics have claimed the selection of recipients for the Prize in Economics is biased toward mainstream economics, citing the well-known apparent snub of Joan Robinson. This theory is in part contradicted with some widely non-mainstream recipients of the prize including Friedrich Hayek of the Austrian School and Ronald Coase of the heterodox New institutional economics thought.

The Department of Economics at the University of Chicagomarker has garnered nine of these Prizes—more than any other university—leading some critics to opine that such an outcome demonstrates either a bias, or the appearance of one, against candidates with alternative views.

Milton Friedman was awarded the 1976 prize in part for his work on monetarism. The prize to Friedman caused international protests, primarily in relation to a six-day trip he took to Chilemarker during March 1975 where he gave lectures on inflation and met with many Chilean government officials, including the dictator Augusto Pinochet.Four Nobel Prize laureates George Wald, Linus Pauling, David Baltimore and Salvador Luria wrote letters to the New York Times protesting the award in October 1976.

The 1994 prize to John Forbes Nash caused controversy within the prize's selection committee because of his history of mental illness and alleged anti-semitism.The controversy resulted in a change to the rules governing the committee during 1994. Previously, members of the Economics Prize Committee members did not have any limit to their term of service; they now serve for three years.

The 2005 prize to Robert Aumann was criticized by European press due to his alleged use of his research of game theory to justify his stance against the dismantling of Israeli settlements from occupied territories. A petition to cancel his prize garnered 1000 signatures worldwide.

The 2008 prize to Paul Krugman, a major critic of George W. Bush, provoked controversy about a left-wing bias of the award, prompting the prize committee to deny that "...the committee has ever taken a political stance."

Nassim Taleb has also criticised the Prize for promoting economic theories based on a misunderstanding of risk. He indicates the 1990 Prize in Economics, awarded to William Sharpe and Harry Markowitz for theories that, Taleb says, had already been undermined by the stock market crash of 1987; the 1997 Prize, awarded to Robert C. Merton and Myron Scholes for their option pricing formula; and the 2003 Prize, awarded to Robert F. Engle for his "ARCH" method of prediction of volatility, which Taleb says underperforms relative to volatility forecasts made by ordinary traders.

Alternative names

The official Swedish name of the Prize is Sveriges riksbanks pris i ekonomisk vetenskap till Alfred Nobels minne. The Nobel Foundation's translations of the Swedish name into English have varied since 1969:

Years Official name in English
1969–1970 Prize in Economic Science dedicated to the memory of Alfred Nobel
1971 Prize in Economic Science
1972 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel
1973–1975 Prize in Economic Science in Memory of Alfred Nobel
1976–1977, 1983 Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel
1978–1981, 1984–1990 Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
1982 Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science
1991 Sveriges Riksbank (Bank of Sweden) Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel
1992–2005 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel
2006–present The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel

During the Nobel Banquet, many laureates have referred to the prize as something other than the "Prize in Economics":

Year: Laureate Laureate's name for the prize
1969: Jan Tinbergen Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics
1970: Paul A. Samuelson Alfred Nobel Memorial Awards in Economics
1971: Simon Kuznets,

1994: John C. Harsanyi
Nobel Memorial Prize
1974: Friedrich von Hayek Nobel Memorial Prize for economic science
1975: Tjalling C. Koopmans award for economics
1976: Milton Friedman,

1981: James Tobin,

2006: Edmund S. Phelps
Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel
1979: Theodore W. Schultz,

1995: Robert E. Lucas Jr.,
Nobel Prize in Economics
1988: Maurice Allais Prix Nobel d'Economie (French for Nobel Prize in Economics)
1981: Lawrence R. Klein Prize in Economic Science

While some sources observe that the Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel is commonly referred to informally as the "Nobel Prize in Economics," the press and other agencies have also called it by other names:
  • Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
  • Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science
  • Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics
  • Nobel Memorial Prize

Economics Prize Committee members

Economics Prize Committee members from 1969-1984
Name Years Affiliation
Bertil Ohlin Chairman 1969-1974 Stockholm School of Economicsmarker
Erik Lundberg 1969-1979

Chairman 1975-1979

Associate member 1980-

Stockholm School of Economicsmarker
Ingvar Svennilson 1969-1971 University of Stockholmmarker
Herman Wold 1969-1980 University of Uppsalamarker

University of Gothenburgmarker
Assar Lindbeck 1969-1994

Chairman 1980-1994
University of Stockholmmarker
Ragnar Bentzel 1975-1990

Secretary 1969-1980, 1982-
University of Uppsalamarker
Sune Carlson 1972-1979

Associate member 1980-
University of Uppsalamarker
Lars Werin 1980-

Secretary 1981

Associate member 1975-1979
University of Stockholmmarker
Ingemar Ståhl 1980- University of Lundmarker
Karl-Göran Mäler 1981- Stockholm School of Economicsmarker

Economics Prize Committee members from 1998-2008
Name Years Affiliation
Jörgen Weibull 1998–2007Chairman 2004–2007 A.O. Wallenberg Professor of Economics

Stockholm School of Economicsmarker
Peter Englund 1993–1995

Secretary 1996–1997, 2002–
Professor of Banking and Insurance

Stockholm School of Economicsmarker
Lars Calmfors 1996–1998, 2003–2007 Professor of International Economics

Stockholm Universitymarker
Bertil Näslund 1999 Professor

Stockholm School of Economicsmarker
Per Krusell 2003–Adjunct member 2003–2004 Professor of Economics

Princeton Universitymarker
Karl-Gustaf Löfgren 2002?– Professor of Economics

Umeå Universitymarker
Timo Teräsvirta 2003?- Professor of Economic Statistics (emeritus)

Stockholm School of Economicsmarker

Professor of Econometrics

School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhusmarker
Bertil Holmlund Adjunct member 1998-2001, 2005-2006

Chairman 2008
Professor of Economics

Uppsala Universitymarker


Until 2009, all laureates in economics had been men. In 2009, Elinor Ostrom became the first woman to be awarded the prize. All other five Nobel Prizes had previously been awarded at some time to a woman.

As of 2008, about 60% of 'Economics Nobel laureates' have been US citizens (by birth or by naturalization), with only four laureates being from outside the US or Western Europe (Arthur Lewis, Leonid Kantorovich, Amartya Sen and Robert Mundell).

See also


  1. John A. Hird. Power, Knowledge, and Politics. (2005). Georgetown University Press. ISBN 1589010493 p.33
  2. Nasar, A Beautiful Mind, p. 358, "It is, in fact, not a Nobel Prize, but rather 'The Central Bank of Sweden [Sveriges Riksbank] Prize in Economic Science[s] in Memory of Alfred Nobel.'"
  3. "Nominating and Awarding", in "Prize in Economic Sciences", Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, accessed November 17, 2007.
  4. Assar Lindbeck, "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1969-2006",, April 18, 1999, accessed November 11, 2007.
  5. "The Prize in Economic Sciences 2007", press release, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, October 15, 2007, accessed November 16, 2007.
  6. "Prize in Economic Sciences", Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, accessed November 17, 2007.
  7. Nasar, A Beautiful Mind, p. 372
  8. Nasar, A Beautiful Mind, p. 356–373
  10. Anna Ringstrom, Sven Nordenstam and Jon Hurdle, "Bush critic wins 2008 Nobel for economics" Reuters Mon Oct 13, 2008


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