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Richard H. Thaler is the 2017 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economics.
The Nobel committee said Thaler has provided a “more realistic analysis of how people think and behave when making economic decisions.”
Speaking by phone to a news conference immediately after he was announced as the prize winner, Thaler said the most important impact of his work is “the recognition that economic agents are humans.” He subsequently told them he will likely use the prize money in ways consistent with his research. “I will say that I will try to spend it as irrationally as possible,” he said.
He is is considered one of the founding fathers of behavioural economics, a field that shows that far from being the rational decision-makers described in economic theory, people often make choices that don’t serve their best interests. That could include, for example, refusing to cut their losses when their investments plunge in value or making big bets at the casino because they are convinced their hot streak will continue.
Richard studies behavioral economics and finance as well as the psychology of decision-making which lies in the gap between economics and psychology. He 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. He is the director of the Center for Decision Research, and is the co-director (with Robert Shiller) of the Behavioral Economics Project at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Thaler is the co-author (with Cass R. Sunstein) of the global best seller Nudge (2008) in which the concepts of behavioral economics are used to tackle many of society’s major problems. In 2015 he published Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics. He has authored or edited four other books: Quasi-Rational Economics, The Winner’s Curse: Paradoxes and Anomalies of Economic Life, and Advances in Behavioural Finance (editor) Volumes I and II. He has published numerous articles in prominent journals such as the American Economics Review, the Journal of Finance and the Journal of Political Economy.
Thaler is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Finance Association and the Econometrics Society, and in 2015 served as the President of the American Economic Association.
Before joining the University of Chicago faculty in 1995 Thaler taught at the University of Rochester and Cornell as well as visiting stints at The University of British Columbia, the Sloan School of Management at MIT, the Russell Sage Foundation and the Centre for Advanced Study in Behavioural Sciences at Stanford.
Originally from New Jersey, Thaler attended Case Western Reserve University where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1967. Soon after, he attended the University of Rochester where he received a master’s degree in 1970 and a PhD in 1974. He joined the Chicago Booth faculty in 1995.