Kenneth J. Arrow


Kenneth J. Arrow

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Kenneth J. Arrow
The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1972

Born: 23 August 1921, New York, NY, USA

Died: 21 February 2017, Palo Alto, CA, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Prize motivation: “for their pioneering contributions to general economic equilibrium theory and welfare theory”

Prize share: 1/2


Kenneth Arrow was born in New York, USA. From 1946, Arrow spent his time as a graduate student at Columbia, as a research associate at the Cowles Commission for Research at the University of Chicago and worked at the RAND Corporation in California. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1951. Arrow taught at several universities and was a major figure in neo-classical economic theory. Many of his students have gone on to become Economic Sciences Laureates. Arrow married Selma Schweitzer in 1947.


Kenneth Arrow made a major contribution to the general equilibrium theory, which describes how the whole economy is connected. Using new mathematical methods, he renewed the equilibrium theory and put it on a stable theoretical basis. Arrow also contributed strongly to the welfare economy, where he proved theorem about its optimality. Most famous is Arrow for his impossibility set. He showed that under general criteria it is impossible to justly combine individual preferences into a common choice.

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