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Yale Professor Wins Nobel Prize For Economics

A video of the Yale University press conference recognizing Nobel Prize-winning economist William Nordhaus.
A video of the Yale University press conference recognizing Nobel Prize-winning economist William Nordhaus. Video Credit: Yale University
William Nordhaus Photo Credit: Provided/ BBVA Foundation

A Yale University professor who is considered the world's leading economist on climate change has been awarded the Nobel Prize for his work on environmental issues.

William Nordhaus, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University, received the 2018 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences for “integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis.”

“I am honored to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for work on environmental economics,” Nordhaus said. “But even more, I am grateful for the intellectual environment at Yale that taught me as a student, nurtured me as a teacher and scholar, and allowed the freedom to devote my life to one of the critical emerging issues of humanity.”

Nordhaus shared the prize with Paul Romer, professor of economics at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business.

Nordhaus’ research has focused on economic growth and natural resources, the economics of climate change, and resource constraints on economic growth. Since the 1970s, he has developed economic approaches to global warming, including the construction of integrated economic and scientific models (the DICE and RICE models) to determine the efficient path for coping with climate change. These models are widely used today in research on studies of climate-change economics and policies. He has also studied wage and price behavior, health economics, augmented national accounting, the political business cycle, productivity, and the “new economy.”

Yale University President Peter Salove said, “This is fitting recognition of William Nordhaus’ work on the economics of climate change.

“Yale is absolutely thrilled to have one of our most distinguished faculty — who is also one of our most distinguished alumni — receive this great honor," Salove said.

The native of Albuquerque, NM, completed his bachelor's and master's degrees at Yale and received his Ph.D. in economics from  MIT. He joined the Yale faculty in 1967 and in 2001 became a Sterling Professor of Economics — the highest honor given to a Yale faculty member. He also is a professor in Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

From 1977 to 1979, Nordhaus was a member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers; from 1986 to 1988, he was provost of Yale University. He has served on several committees of the National Academy of Sciences on topics including climate change, environmental accounting, risk and the role of the tax system in climate change.

His 1996 study of the economic history of lighting back to Babylonian times found that the measurement of long-term economic growth has been significantly underestimated. He returned to Mesopotamian economics with a study of the costs of the U.S. war in Iraq, published in 2002 before the war began, projecting a total cost as high as $2 trillion. He directs the “G-Econ project,” which provides the first comprehensive measures of economic activity at a geophysical scale.

Nordhaus is current or past editor of several scientific journals and has authored many books, among them “Invention, Growth and Welfare, Is Growth Obsolete?”; “The Efficient Use of Energy Resources”; “Reforming Federal Regulation”; “Managing the Global Commons”; “Warming the World”; and (jointly with Paul Samuelson) the classic textbook “Economics,” whose 19th edition was published in 2009.

He is the author of two books published by Yale University Press: “A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies,” which was selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title of 2008, and “The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World,” which was published in 2013.

Nordhaus lives in downtown New Haven with his wife, Barbara, who is an assistant clinical professor for social work at the Yale Child Study Center.

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