Three US-based academics yesterday won the Nobel Prize in Economics for research that revolutionized empirical work in their field and brought better understanding of how labor markets work, the jury said.
Canadian David Card, Israeli-American Joshua Angrist and Dutch-American Guido Imbens shared the prize for providing new insights about the labor market and showing “what conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn from natural experiments,” the Nobel committee said in a statement.
Card’s work has focused on the labor market effects of minimum wages, immigration and education. Angrist and Imbens demonstrated how precise cause and effect conclusions can be.
Half of the 10 million kronor (US$1.14 million) prize went to Card, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who was born in Canada in 1956, for his empirical contributions to labor economics.
The other half went jointly to Angrist, 61, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Imbens, 58, a professor at Stanford University, “for their methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships.”
“I was absolutely stunned to get a telephone call,” Imbens told reporters during a telephone interview following the announcement.
“Josh Angrist was actually the best man at my wedding so he is a good friend, both professionally and personally, and I’m just thrilled to share the prize with him and David,” he said.
The three laureates “have revolutionized empirical work in economics. They have shown that it’s indeed possible to answer important questions, even when it’s not possible to conduct randomized experiment,” Nobel Committee member Eva Mork told reporters in announcing the prize.
The trio was honored for their work using so-called “natural experiments,” in which chance events or policy changes result in groups of people being treated differently, in a way that resembles clinical trials in medicine.
The economics prize, officially the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was the only prize not among the original five set out in the will of Nobel, who died in 1896. It was instead created through a donation from the Swedish central bank in 1968.
Just like this year, the economics prize has generally been male-dominated. It has only been awarded to two women in history, Elinor Ostrom in 2009 and Esther Duflo in 2019.
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