2018 Nobel in Economics Awarded to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer

2018 Nobel in Economics Awarded to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer


The 2018 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science was awarded on Monday to the American economists William D. Nordhaus and Paul M. Romer for reshaping the understanding of the long-term determinants of economic growth.

Mr. Nordhaus was cited for his work on the implications of environmental factors, including climate change. Mr. Romer was cited for his work on the importance of technological change.

Mr. Nordhaus, a professor of economics at Yale University, pioneered the economic analysis of climate change. He is also a leading proponent of the use of carbon taxation to reduce emissions, a policy approach preferred by many economists.

The announcement of the award came the same day that a United Nations panel on climate change released a report warning of dire consequences from climate change and urging governments to respond to the problem with greater urgency. The report builds on and cites Mr. Nordhaus’s work.

Mr. Romer, a professor of economics at New York University, was honored for his work explaining the role of ideas in fostering economic growth.

Both men have long been promoted as possible recipients of the prize, but they were not obvious candidates to be awarded one together. In announcing the decision, members of the prize committee emphasized that both men had highlighted obstacles to long-term growth that required international cooperation.

“The message is that it’s needed for countries to cooperate globally to solve some of these big questions,” said Goran K. Hansson, secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which selects the winner of the economics prize.

At a news conference after the announcement, Mr. Romer said he and Mr. Nordhaus also shared a sense of optimism that public policy can be improved.

“One problem today is that people think protecting the environment will be so costly and so hard that they want to ignore the problem and pretend it doesn’t exist,” he said. “Humans are capable of amazing accomplishments if we set our minds to it.”

This is the 50th time that the prize in economics has been awarded.

Richard H. Thaler was recognized for his pioneering work in establishing that people are predictably irrational — that they consistently behave in ways that defy economic theory. He is credited with persuading many economists to pay more attention to human behavior, and many governments to pay more attention to economics.

• James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine last Monday, for a discovery that the body’s immune system can be used to attack cancer cells.

• Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for developing tools made of light beams. Dr. Strickland is just the third woman to win the physics prize.

• Three scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday: Frances H. Arnold of the U.S., who received half the prize, and George P. Smith and Gregory P. Winter who shared the other half. They won for tapping the power of evolutionary biology to design molecules.

• The Congolese gynecological surgeon Denis Mukwege and the former ISIS captive Nadia Murad were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been postponed. The institution that chooses the laureate is embroiled in a scandal involving allegations of sexual misconduct, financial malpractice and repeated leaks — a crisis that led to the departure of several board members and required the intervention of the Swedish king. Two laureates might be named next year. Read about last year’s winner, Kazuo Ishiguro.



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