Developments in Development (D2): Deaton wins the Nobel!
Exciting news for development economists: Angus Deaton is the winner of this year’s Sveriges Riksbank prize in economic sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel (aka the Nobel prize in Economics).
Deaton is a British economist, who earned his PhD in economics at Cambridge University working under the supervision of another Nobel winner, Richard Stone, and taught at Cambridge and Bristol before moving to America. He is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Economics Department at Princeton University.
For development economists, one of Deaton’s many contributions has been to help economists improve how one measures consumption and welfare in developing countries. Indeed, graduate students in development economics still read Deaton’s 1997 book The Analysis of Household Surveys: A Microeconometric Approach to Development Policy, as the source to analyze micro-level survey data about individuals and households. More recently, he has cautioned against the eagerness to draw from randomized trials in development, and has written an excellent book on health and inequality: The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality,
His main current research areas are in health, wellbeing, and economic development. His current research focuses on the determinants of health in rich and poor countries, as well as on the measurement of poverty in India and around the world. Click on the following links to view information about his research on India and world poverty, health, or household surveys.
The Guardian quotes Jean Drèze, an economist based in India who has worked with Deaton: “Angus Deaton is not only a brilliant economist but also a formidable scholar and a great writer. He has shown how intelligent use of survey data can illuminate momentous issues of human welfare and contribute to public reasoning.” The Economist provides more information here, and Chris Blattman wrote a very nice piece in Foreign Policy outlining how Deaton’s work has influenced development research in general as well as his own.
What these pieces do not say, however, is how amazing and inspiring he is as a teacher and a presenter. When I first entered the PhD program at Princeton, I had chosen development only as a third field for my comprehensive exams. Deaton’s lectures on empirical microeconomics and development, along with those from Anne Case and Tim Besley, caused me to do a major Bayesian update and certainly inspired me to do concentrate my PhD in development economics. And of course, I could not have wished for a better supervisor to give advice, encouragement, support and focus on the important elements of doing research.
Congratulations to Angus Deaton!!