Angus Deaton of Princeton University has won the Nobel Prize in Economics. Tyler Cowen over at MR summarized Angus Deaton’s immense contribution to the study of consumption, human welfare, and development:
A brilliant selection. Deaton works closely with numbers, and his preferred topics are consumption, poverty, and welfare. “Understanding what economic progress really means” I would describe as his core contribution, and analyzing development from the starting point of consumption rather than income is part of his vision. That includes looking at calories, life expectancy, health, and education as part of living standards in a fundamental way. I think of this as a prize about empirics, the importance of economic development, and indirectly a prize about economic history.
Think of Deaton as an economist who looks more closely at what poor households consume to get a better sense of their living standards and possible paths for economic development. He truly, deeply understands the implications of economic growth, the benefits of modernity, and political economy. Here is a very good non-technical account of his work on measuring poverty (pdf), one of the best introductions to his thought.
Deaton’s book, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality is a must read for those interested in development.
Some readers of the blog may recall Deaton’s summer square off with Rwanda’s Health Minister Agnes Binagwaho over his comments on the Boston Review blog.
Deaton’s selection is a timely nod to the study of BIG PICTURE development.