For two years, I had great success -- some might even call it luck -- at predicting the recipients of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Well, my run is over. I failed to foresee that the prize would be given to Angus Deaton, a British-American economist working at Princeton. But despite the ruination of my record as a prognosticator, I am happy, because Deaton is a great choice for the prize.
Last year, the Nobel went to Jean Tirole, a master theorist, who uses math to predict how companies interact and compete in markets. This year’s prize is for a very different kind of work. Though Deaton started out as a theorist, he dedicated his most famous efforts toward making sure that economics has better data. And he has used that data to study poor people around the world, with the goal of improving their lot in life.