University of Rochester grad wins 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics

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A University of Rochester grad is the winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics.

Richard Thaler earned a master’s degree at the U of R in 1970 and a Ph.D. in 1974. He also taught at the U of R as well as Cornell.

Thaler, whose work influenced the Obama administration and led to a cameo in “The Big Short,” was cited for his research in the field of behavioral economics. He gets 9 million Swedish krona, or about $1.1 million.

“I will try to spend it as irrationally as possible,” he told reporters.

Economics is built on the assumption that people make rational decisions based on the desire to increase their economic well-being. While economists have long known that isn’t strictly true, Thaler was a pioneer in studying why people sometimes make irrational decisions, and how they can be encouraged to make smarter ones.

“He’s made economics more human,” said Peter Gärdenfors, a member of the committee that awarded the prize.

Thaler, 72, of the University of Chicago, told the press that the most important value of his work was the understanding that “in order to do good economics, you have to keep in mind that people are human.”

Thaler is the 29th winner of the economics prize associated with the school in the 49 years the award has been given. The most recent winners were Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen, who shared the 2013 award with Robert Shiller. George Stigler, Milton Friedman and Paul Samuelson were among the most famous winners from Chicago.

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