Paul A. Samuelson Biography - Nobel Prize Winner (1970)


Paul A. Samuelson (born May 15, 1915, in Gary, Indiana) is an American economist known for his work in many fields of economics. He was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal in 1947 and Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in 1970.

Academic accomplishments
Received the degree of Bachelor of Arts from University of Chicago in 1935 (where studied under Knight and Viner)
Received degrees of Master of Arts in 1936 and Doctor of Philosophy in 1941 from Harvard University (where he studied under Schumpeter and Leontief)
A Social Science Research Council predoctoral fellow from 1935-1937
A member of the Society of Fellows, Harvard University, 1937-1940
A Ford Foundation Research Fellow from 1958-1959
Received honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of Chicago and Oberlin College in 1961, and from Indiana University and East Anglia University (England) in 1966.
Received National Medal of Science, 1996
Received honorary Doctor of Social Sciences degree from Yale University in 2005.

Professional positions
Came to M.I.T. in 1940 as an Assistant Professor of Economics and was appointed Associate Professor in 1944.
Served as a staff member of the Radiation Laboratory from 1944-1945
Professor of International Economic Relations (part-time) at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1945.
Professor at M.I.T. in 1947 and is now an Institute Professor.
Guggenheim Fellow from 1948-1949.

The War Production Board and Office of War Mobilization and Reconstruction in 1945 (economic and general planning program)
The United States Treasury, 1945-1952
The Bureau of the Budget in 1952
The Research Advisory Panel to the President's National Goals Commission from 1959-1960
The Research Advisory Board Committee for Economic Development in 1960.
A member of the National Task Force on Economic Education from 1960-1961
A consultant to the Rand Corporation since 1949.
An informal consultant for the United States Treasury and the Council of Economic Advisors.
Was a consultant to the Federal Reserve Bank.
An Economic Advisor to Senator, candidate, and President-elect Kennedy, and later to President Lyndon B. Johnson
His consultation for the government brought him national recognition as an economic advisor.
In 1965 he was elected president of the International Economic Association.

Membership of honorary and professional organizations
A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
A fellow of the American Philosophical Society and the British Academy;
A member and past President (1961) of the American Economic Association
A member of the editorial board and past-President (1951) of the Econometric Society
A fellow, council member and past Vice-President of the Economic Society.
A member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Fields of interest
As professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Samuelson has worked in fields including:

Welfare economics, in which he popularised the Lindahl-Bowen-Samuelson conditions (criteria for deciding whether an action will improve welfare) and demonstrated in 1950 the insufficiency of a national-income index to reveal which of two social options was uniformly outside the other's (feasible) Possibility function (Collected Scientific Papers, v. 2, ch. 77; Fischer, 1987, p. 236).
Public finance theory, in which he is particularly known for his work on determining the optimal allocation of resources in the presence of both public goods and private goods.
International economics, where he influenced the development of two important international trade models: the Balassa-Samuelson effect, and the Heckscher-Ohlin model (with the Stolper-Samuelson theorem).
Macroeconomics, where he devised the overlapping generations model as a way to analyze economic agents' behavior across multiple periods of time (Collected Scientific Papers, v. 1, ch. 21).
Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947, Enlarged ed. 1983) is Samuelson's only solely-authored treatise, but that may have been all that was necessary for its purposes. These were to:

examine underlying analogies between central features in theoretical and applied economics and
propose how operationally meaningful theorems can be described with a small number of analogous methods.
Thus, "a general theory of economic theories" (Samuelson, 1983, p. xxvi). The book showed how these purposes could be parsimoniously and fruitfully met in the language of the mathematics applied to diverse fields. The book found two general hypotheses sufficient for its purposes:

maximizing (or minimizing) agents and
economic systems in stable equilibrium.
There are 388 papers to date in Samuelson's Collected Scientific Papers. Stanley Fischer (1987, p. 234) writes that taken together they are unique in their verve, breadth of economic and general knowledge, mastery of setting, and generosity of allusions to predecessors.

Samuelson is also author (and since 1985 co-author) of an influential textbook, Economics, first published in 1948, now in its 18th edition. The book has been translated into forty-one languages and sold over four million copies.

Stanislaw Ulam once challenged Samuelson to name one theory in all of the social sciences which is both true and nontrivial. Several years later, Samuelson responded with David Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage.

Along with Kenneth Arrow, Samuelson is considered one of the founders of modern neoclassical economics. The following is an excerpt on the reasons for awarding him the Nobel Prize:

More than any other contemporary economist, Samuelson has helped to raise the general analytical and methodological level in economic science. He has simply rewritten considerable parts of economic theory. He has also shown the fundamental unity of both the problems and analytical techniques in economics, partly by a systematic application of the methodology of maximization for a broad set of problems. This means that Samuelson's contributions range over a large number of different fields.

Akerlof, George A.
Allais, Maurice
Arrow, Kenneth J.
Aumann, Robert J.
Becker, Gary S.
Buchanan, James M., Jr.
Coase, Ronald H.
Debreu, Gerard
Engle, Robert F.
Fogel, Robert W.
Friedman, Milton
Frisch, Ragnar
Granger, Clive W. J.
Haavelmo, Trygve
Harsanyi, John C.
Heckman, James J.
Hayek, Friedrich August Von
Hicks, Sir John R.
Kahneman, Daniel
Kantorovich, Leonid Vitaliyevich
Klein, Lawrence R.
Koopmans, Tjalling C.
Kuznets, Simon
Kydland, Finn E.
Leontief, Wassily
Lewis, Sir Arthur
Lucas, Robert
Markowitz, Harry M.
McFadden, Daniel L.
Meade, James E.
Merton, Robert C.
Miller, Merton M.
Mirrlees, James A.
Modigliani, Franco
Mundell, Robert A.
Myrdal, Gunnar
Nash, John F.
North, Douglass C.
Ohlin, Bertil
Prescott, Edward C.
Samuelson, Paul A.
Schelling, Thomas C.
Scholes, Myron S.
Schultz, Theodore W.
Selten, Reinhard
Sen, Amartya
Sharpe, William F.
Simon, Herbert A.
Smith, Vernon L.
Solow, Robert M.
Spence, A. Michael
Stigler, George J.
Stiglitz, Joseph E.
Stone, Sir Richard
Tinbergen, Jan
Tobin, James
Vickrey, William

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