• The Nobel Prize for Economics this year goes to the three economists researching in the USA, David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens.
  • David Card, Joshua D. Angrist and Guido W. Imbens are honored, as announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.
  • Card received the prize for “his empirical contributions to labor economics”, the other two “for their methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships”.

The Canadian-born Card receives half of the prestigious award for his empirical contributions to labor economics, as the Academy’s Secretary General, Göran Hansson, said at the announcement. Angrist from the US state of Ohio and the Dutch-American scientist Imbens share the other half for their methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships. All Nobel Prize winners for this year have been named.

All three researchers “provided us with new knowledge about the labor market and showed what conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect from natural experiments,” the academy justified its decision. “Your approach spilled over into other areas and revolutionized empirical research.”

“The economics have become a bit more precise”

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Assessment by Roman Mezzasalma, head of business editorial TV at SRF: “Economics is not an exact science”, the economists tend to say – especially if they have made mistakes with their forecasts. Thanks to the three new Nobel Prize winners in economics, David Card, Jushua Angrist and Guido Imbens, and their research into causal relationships, economics has become a little more precise.

Card has been able to show, for example, that a higher minimum wage does not necessarily mean lower employment – that one is not the cause of the other, as was assumed for a long time. Especially in times of crisis like this, it is of immense importance that economic facts are put in the right context, that causes and effects can be identified or connections can sometimes be excluded.

How does an economic shutdown affect the spread of a virus? And what does it cost? Thanks to Card, Angrist and Imbens, such questions can now be answered more precisely. “

Many of the big questions in the social sciences have to do with cause and effect – such as how immigration affects wages and employment levels. These questions are difficult to answer because there are no comparisons. “We don’t know what would have happened if there had been less immigration,” says the academy. However, this year’s award winners have shown that it is possible to answer these and similar questions with natural experiments.

Not a classic Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize for Economics, which has been awarded since the late 1960s, is the only one that does not go back to the will of the prize sponsor and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel (1833-1896). It was donated by the Swedish Central Bank and is therefore not, strictly speaking, a classic Nobel Prize. Nevertheless, it will be presented together with the other prizes on the anniversary of Nobel’s death, December 10th.

So far, only one German has been among the Nobel laureates in economics: the Bonn scientist Reinhard Selten received it in 1994 together with John Nash and John Harsanyi for their pioneering contributions to non-cooperative game theory. Scientists from the USA are particularly often honored with the economics award. Last year it went to the US economists Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson, who were honored for their improvements in auction theory and the invention of new auction formats.

The Nobel Prize winners in the categories of medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace had already been announced last week. Among the chosen were two Germans, the meteorologist Klaus Hasselmann in physics and the chemist Benjamin List.

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