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Dale Mortensen, Nobelist for Labor Market Work, Dies at 74

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Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Dale T. Mortensen, who won the 2010 Nobel Prize in economics for research into the difficulties of matching supply and demand in the labor market, has died. He was 74.

He died today, according to a news release from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. No cause was given. Mortensen was a professor of economics in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

“He will be deeply missed by his colleagues at Northwestern -- and by the world,” Northwestern President Morton Schapiro said in the release. “His groundbreaking work is especially relevant to policy makers attempting to address unemployment today.”

Mortensen won the Nobel along with Peter A. Diamond and Christopher Pissarides, for their independent research on search theory. Diamond, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor emeritus, was nominated by President Barack Obama for the Federal Reserve Board and withdrew his nomination in 2011 because of Republican opposition. Pissarides teaches at the London School of Economics.

A member of the Northwestern faculty since 1965, Mortensen found in his research that labor-market rigidities can cause unemployment as job-seekers look for the best work at the highest pay.

‘Matching Problem’

“The matching problem, whether found in the labor, housing, or the marriage market, is one of forming complementary pairs in a world in which individual workers and jobs are heterogeneous,” he wrote in an autobiography for the Nobel Prize website. “It takes time and resources to accomplish this task, and the duration of unemployment experienced by individual workers as well as the length of time that an existing job is vacant reflect this fact.”

Mortensen was a past president of the Society of Economic Dynamics and one of the founding editors of the Review of Economic Dynamics.

He was born on Feb. 2, 1939, in Enterprise, Oregon. He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, in 1961 and a doctorate in economics from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 1967.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laurence Arnold in Washington at larnold4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Charles W. Stevens at cstevens@bloomberg.net

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