Angus Deaton Wins Economics Nobel for Studies of Poverty and Welfare

Angus Deaton. Source: NIH

Angus Deaton. Source: NIH

The Scottish-American economist Angus Deaton, celebrated among his peers for his work on linking up individual consumption patterns with aggregate economic outcomes, received the Nobel Prize for economics for 2015. Deaton’s contributions since the early 1980s have been widely recognised as shaping micro-, macro- and developmental economics, and for helping countries device effective welfare schemes to reduce poverty. The economics prize, actually called the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, was instituted in 1968 and wasn’t one of the prizes established by Alfred Nobel’s will in 1895.

Deaton’s citation states he was awarded the prize “for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare”. The Nobel Foundation elaborated in a statement that he was being honoured for helping policymakers answer three questions: how consumers choose to spend on different goods, how much of its income society saves, and how welfare and poverty are measured. “Deaton’s focus on household surveys has helped transform development economics from a theoretical field based on aggregate data to an empirical field based on detailed individual data,” the statement finishes.

“He has shown how intelligent use of survey data can illuminate momentous issues of human welfare and contribute to public reasoning,” Jean Drèze, Visiting Professor at the Department of Economics, Ranchi University, told The Wire. Deaton, currently a professor of economics and international affairs at Prince University, has been known for emphasising the importance of democratic practices in formulating public policy, especially focusing on the social sector. “This has significant implications since the Indian government is constantly trying to insulate economic policy from public debate,” Drèze added.