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George Akerlof
Keynesian economics
George Akerlof.jpg
Birth June 17, 1940 (1940-06-17) (age 69)
New Haven, Connecticut
Nationality United States
Institution UC Berkeley
Alma mater MIT (Ph.D.)
Yale University (B.A.)
Influences Robert Solow
Influenced Robert Shiller
Contributions Information asymmetry
Efficiency wages
Awards Nobel Prize in Economics (2001)
Information at IDEAS/RePEc

George Arthur Akerlof (born June 17, 1940) is an American economist and Koshland Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. He won the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics (shared with Michael Spence and Joseph E. Stiglitz).

Akerlof is perhaps best known for his article, "The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism", published in Quarterly Journal of Economics in 1970, in which he identified certain severe problems that afflict markets characterized by asymmetrical information. In Efficiency Wage Models of the Labor Market, Akerlof and coauthor Janet Yellen propose rationales for the efficiency wage hypothesis in which employers pay above the market-clearing wage, in contradiction to the conclusions of neoclassical economics.


Reproductive technology shock

In the late 1990s Akerlof's ideas attracted the attention of some on both sides of the debate over legal abortion. In articles appearing in The Quarterly Journal of Economics,[1] The Economic Journal,[2] and other forums Akerlof described a phenomenon that he labeled "reproductive technology shock." He contended that the new technologies that had helped to spawn the late twentieth century sexual revolution, modern contraceptives and legal abortion, had not only failed to suppress the incidence of out-of-wedlock childbearing, they had actually worked to increase it. According to Akerlof, for women who did not use them, these technologies had largely transformed the old paradigm of socio-sexual assumptions, expectations, and behaviors in ways that were especially disadvantageous. For example, the availability of legal abortion now allowed men to view their offspring as the deliberate product of female choice rather than as the chance product of sexual intercourse. Thus it encouraged biological fathers not only to reject any supposed obligation to marry the mother, but to reject the very idea of paternal obligation.

While Akerlof did not recommend legal restrictions on either abortion or the availability of contraceptives, his analysis seemed to lend support to those who did. Thus, a scholar strongly associated with liberal and Democratic-leaning policy positions, has been approvingly cited by conservative and Republican-leaning analysts and commentators.[3][4]

Address to American Economic Association

In his 2007 presidential Address to the American Economic Association, Akerlof proposed natural norms that decision makers have for how they should behave. In this lecture Akerlof proposed a new agenda for macroeconomics with inclusion of those norms.[5]

He is a trustee of the Economists for Peace and Security, and co-director of the Social Interactions, Identity and Well-Being program at CIFAR.[6] He is in the advisory board of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.


His father was Swedish and his mother a Jewish/German-American.[7] Akerlof graduated from the Lawrenceville School and received his B.A. degree from Yale University in 1962, and his Ph.D. degree from MIT in 1966, and has taught at the London School of Economics. His wife Janet Yellen is president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and a professor of economics at UC Berkeley and served on President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors.[8][9]


  • Akerlof, George A. and Rachel E. Kranton. 2010. "Identity Economics: How Our Identities Shape Our Work, Wages, and Well-Being", Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-14648-5.
  • Akerlof, George A. and Robert J. Shiller. 2009. "Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism", Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-14233-6.
  • Akerlof, George. "Thoughts on global warming." chinadialogue (2006). 14 July 2008.
  • Akerlof, George A. 2005. "Explorations in Pragmatic Economics", Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-925390-0.
  • Akerlof, George, and Janet Yellen. 1986. Efficiency Wage Models of the Labor Market. Orlando, Fla.: Academic Press.
  • Akerlof, George A. 1984. "An Economic Theorist's Book of Tales", Cambridge University Press.


External links



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