Lives of the Laureates, Fourth Edition: Eighteen Nobel Economists
- William Breit() (Trinity University)Barry Hirsch() (Georgia State University)Registered editor(s):
Lives of the Laureates offers readers an informal history of modern economic thought as told through autobiographical essays by eighteen winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics. The essays not only provide unique insights into major economic ideas of our time but also shed light on the processes of intellectual discovery and creativity. This fourth edition adds five new Nobel laureates to its list of contributors: Gary S. Becker, 1992 recipient; John C. Harsanyi, co-recipient in 1994; Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 1995 recipient; Myron S. Scholes, co-recipient in 1997; and James J. Heckman, co-recipient in 2000. This edition also includes a new afterword by the editors, "Lessons from the Laureates." Lives of the Laureates collects revised presentations from a continuing lecture series at Trinity University in San Antonio, for which Nobelists at American universities are invited to give an account of "My Evolution as an Economist." Some common motivating themes emerge: the importance of real world events and a desire for relevance—as seen in James Tobin's decision to enter economics in order to understand the ruin caused by the Great Depression and in Gary Becker's recourse to economics to help him understand inequality, race, and class; the influence of great teachers— several cite the charismatic Milton Friedman; the right conditions for creativity and intellectual discovery—as found at the University of Chicago starting in the late 1940s, and the Rand Corporation in the 1950s; and the role of chance in their careers—the "lucky accidents" that set them on one path rather than another. Together, these individual accounts give what the editors call a "comprehensive picture of the diverseness, richness, and profundity that is the hallmark of contemporary economic thought in America."
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