Nobel Prize Winner Angus Deaton Wrote the Book on Inequality Before Piketty
The 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in economics is Angus Deaton of Princeton University. Born in Scotland, and a holder of U.K. and U.S. citizenship, his work has focused on health in rich and developing countries, and on how to measure poverty.
Here are a few things worth knowing about him and his work:
He’s a Health Guru
Deaton is an expert on India. And he says efforts to tackle malnourishment should be mindful of the difference between calorie counts and nourishment. "The real focus should be on improving health, not just improving calorie counts," he said in a 2012 interview for a Bloomberg story on hunger in India.
His Work Helps Economics Focus on the Real World
He focuses on household surveys, saying they can provide a lot of insight into issues such as the relationship between income and calorie consumption, and even on gender discrimination in families. This has given the field of development economics the ability to shift to an empirical enterprise from a theoretical one.
He Put More Tools in the Box
The question of how consumers choose to spend their money on different things is a big deal in economics, and it has implications for evaluating the impact of policy changes such as tax reform on different groups. Deaton's early work tackled this issue, and he developed the Almost Ideal Demand System in the 1980s to estimate the dependency of demand for a good on prices of all goods and individual incomes, the Nobel committee said. This is now a standard tool for academics and to evaluate policy, it said.
He Has Clear Views on the Climate
Deaton contributed to a book published last year called In 100 Years: Leading Economists Predict the Future. Here's something from his contribution:
"Unregulated climate change is a new and enormous danger. Perhaps there will have to be great suffering and destruction before people come together to make changes.”
Grandparents and Children Might Not Want to Live Together
Elderly people who live with children younger than 18 enjoy their lives less and have more anger and stress, according to a 2013 study he did with Arthur A. Stone of Stony Brook University.
His 2009 Study Was Good News for Tall People
He led a 2009 study that found tall people are likely to be happier, have more income and education.
“There is good evidence that cognitive and physical function develop together. It is this lack of full cognitive development that accounts for lower levels of education, and lower earnings in adulthood which, in turn, are almost entirely responsible for lower levels of life evaluation, and poorer emotional outcomes.”
He Beat Thomas Piketty*
*Sort of. Deaton's "The Great Escape,'' published in 2013, tells how inequality developed over the last 250 years.
Piketty's surprise best seller, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century,'' came out in English a year later, and is partly famous for its historical analysis of the subject. Though Piketty's is twice the length (376 pages vs 696 pages). Still, the books are very different and Piketty's was actually published in French the same year.
The Name's Deaton. Angus Deaton.
He attended Fettes College in Edinburgh, the alma mater of Tony Blair. And James Bond.
He's Not the Other Angus Deayton
There's a British comedian called Angus Deayton. This isn't him.