Professor Sir Angus Deaton, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Economics, is one of the world’s foremost experts on the economics of well-being, health, and poverty. Distinguished for the groundbreaking use of household data analysis to establish links between individual human behaviours and societal outcomes, his work relies on real-world facts to inform big-picture economic thinking.
As Deaton points out in his book The Great Escape, the historical patterns that shape developing countries indicate that income inequality is often a consequence of progress. Advancements in medicine and technologies that promote healthy living and enable escape from destitution are denied to those who can’t afford them. This inhibits upward mobility and further widens the gap between rich and poor households.
To gain insights into the health and well being of developing nations, Deaton championed the use of household surveys to link consumption of goods and services with outcomes for, and insights into, the whole economy. For example, his studies measuring income against calorie intake in impoverished homes pointed to the value of giving poor countries economic assistance rather than food aid. His work on the distribution of household resources shed light on gender discrimination, as he found that in times of scarcity, families better provide for their boys than for their girls.
As a fundamental indicator of the health of an economy, Deaton’s use of household data proved more reliable and useful than income or gross domestic product metrics, and helped convert the development economics discipline from a reliance on theory to a grounding in the empirical.
Noted for being accessible as well as optimistic, Deaton has been lauded by the Nobel organisation as « immensely important to human welfare. » His work has helped transform modern microeconomics, macroeconomics and development economics; his findings have greatly influenced both practical policymaking and the scientific community, thus helping to not only analyse but to improve the world.
Deaton is a Senior Scholar and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs Emeritus at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Economics Department at Princeton University and has taught at Cambridge University and the University of Bristol. He has widely published, including for the World Bank, and is a regular contributor to the Royal Economic Society newsletter. His book The Great Escape broke its publisher’s record for foreign rights sales.
In addition to his 2015 Nobel Prize for Economics, he is the recipient of numerous awards, including most recently being honoured with knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to research in economics and international affairs. He also received the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award and the first Frisch Medal. Deaton is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and is a Fellow of the British Academy, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Econometric Society.