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Tyler Cowen

The Nobel Prize Isn’t What It Used to Be

The awards are attracting less attention and declining in status. 

Losing its luster.

Losing its luster.

Photographer: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images

With most Nobel prizes awarded last week and the economics prize yet to come, allow me to make a heretical observation: A Nobel Prize is worth less each year. What’s more, these awards no longer generate much interest or suspense.

I know the most about economics, so I will start there. The prize was first awarded only in 1969, so by the late 1970s the core of winners included Paul Samuelson, Milton Friedman, Kenneth Arrow, John Hicks and Friedrich A. Hayek, typically considered the greatest economists of the 20th century, along with John Maynard Keynes, who died in 1946.