This year's Nobel Prize in Economics honors a scholar whose work has bridged the conceptual gap between the masses and the individual, injected data into the realm of conjecture, and developed tools to help fight global poverty. Angus Deaton, 69, a British-American economist at Princeton University, pioneered the study of consumption among poor families and individuals and how it differs from that of more affluent people.
Deaton's work has enabled economists to better model overall consumption and the effects of economic policies and has played an important role in the dramatic reduction in abject poverty seen globally in the past 3 decades. The $980,000 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, as the award is officially called, wasn't established in Alfred Nobel's will but created in 1969 with an endowment from Sweden's central bank.
"It's long overdue," says Oriana Bandiera, a labor and development economist at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), of Deaton's prize. "Professor Deaton's contributions to the field have been profound and transformative." Diana Weinhold, an international development economist at LSE, notes that Deaton's work is so foundational that many younger economists just take it for granted. "A lot of the contributions that Deaton pushed through now seem completely obvious," Weinhold says.