David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens Win Nobel in Economics 2021
The three were honored for research on unintended experiments, such as the impact of a minimum-wage increase across state lines.
Nobel in economics goes to David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens.
Officials in Stockholm on Monday announced the winners of 2021 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences: David Card, Joshua D. Angrist and Guido W. Imbens.Credit…Claudio Bresciani/TT News Agency, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Oct. 11, 2021Updated 7:03 a.m. ET
David Card, Joshua D. Angrist and Guido W. Imbens have made a career of studying unintended experiments — Mr. Card in labor economics and Mr. Angrist and Mr. Imbens in analyzing cause and effect.
On Monday, their work earned them the 2021 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
All three winners are based in the United States. Mr. Card, who was born in Canada, works at the University of California, Berkeley. Mr. Angrist, born in the United States, is at M.I.T. and Mr. Imbens, born in the Netherlands, is at Stanford University.
“Uncovering causal relationships is a major challenge,” said Peter Fredriksson, chairman of the prize committee. “Sometimes, nature, or policy changes, provide situations that resemble randomized experiments. This year’s laureates have shown that such natural experiments help answer important questions for society.”
Mr. Card’s work has challenged conventional wisdom in labor economics — including the idea that higher minimum wages led to lower employment. He was a co-author of influential studies on that topic with Alan B. Krueger, who died in 2019, including one that used the natural geographical border between New Jersey and Pennsylvania to test the effect of a minimum wage change. Comparing outcomes between the states, the research found that employment at fast food restaurants was not affected by an increase in New Jersey’s minimum wage.
Mr. Angrist and Mr. Imbens have contributed to the way researchers think about and analyze natural experiments.
They showed that it is possible to identify a clear effect from an intervention in people’s behavior — like a subsidy that might encourage people to ride bicycles to work — even if a researcher cannot control who takes part in the experiment, and even if the impact varies across individuals. The pair also came up with a transparent framework for such research that has increased trust in it.
“The challenge, for me, has always been trying to understand, when people do empirical work, what exactly the methodological challenges are,” Mr. Imbens said, speaking to the announcement’s news conference via telephone.
Mr. Imbens said he was asleep when he received the call from the prize committee — around 2 a.m. — and was “absolutely stunned” to hear the news. He noted that Mr. Angrist was the best man at his wedding.
Two American economists affiliated with Stanford University, Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson, won the 2020 Nobel in economics for improvements to auction theory. Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo of M.I.T. and Michael Kremer of Harvard won in 2019 for their experiment-based research in development economics.
The award, formally called the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, has been given out since 1969.
Who are the other Nobel Prize winners in 2021?
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, who independently discovered key mechanisms of how people sense heat, cold, touch and their own bodily movements.
Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi were recognized with the Nobel Prize in Physics for work that “laid the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and how humanity influences it.”
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan for their development of a new tool to build molecules, work that has spurred advances in pharmaceutical research and allowed scientists to construct catalysts with considerably less impact on the environment.
Abdulrazak Gurnah was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for “his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”
Two journalists thousands of miles apart, Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitri A. Muratov of Russia, were honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for their tireless efforts to hold the powerful to account.