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George Stigler
Chicago School of Economics
Birth January 17, 1911(1911-01-17)
Seattle, Washington
Death December 1, 1991 (aged 80)
Chicago, Illinois
Nationality United States
Institution University of Chicago
Field Economics
Alma mater University of Chicago (Ph.D.), Northwestern University
Influences Frank Knight, Jacob Viner, Henry Simons
Opposed John Maynard Keynes
Influenced Jacques Drèze
Thomas Sowell
Contributions Capture theory
Awards Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (1982)
National Medal of Science (1987)
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George Joseph Stigler (January 17, 1911  – December 1, 1991) was a U.S. economist. He won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1982, and was a key leader of the Chicago School of Economics, along with his close friend Milton Friedman.

While at Chicago, he was greatly influenced by Frank Knight, his dissertation supervisor. Milton Friedman, a friend for over sixty years, comments it as a remarkable feat since only three or four students ever managed to complete their PhD dissertation under Knight in 28 years of his service at Chicago. Jacob Viner and Henry Simons also had great influence on him. Among his students, W. Allen Wallis and Milton Friedman also had great impact on his economic thinking.

Stigler is best known for developing the Economic Theory of Regulation, also known as capture, which says that interest groups and other political participants will use the regulatory and coercive powers of government to shape laws and regulations in a way that is beneficial to them. This theory is an important component of the Public Choice field of economics. He also carried out extensive research into the history of economic thought.

His 1962 article "Information in the Labor Market" developed the theory of search unemployment.

He was well known for his sharp sense of humor, and wrote a number of spoof essays. In his book The Intellectual and the Marketplace, for instance, he proposed Stigler's Law of Demand and Supply Elasticities, that "all demand curves are inelastic, and all supply curves are inelastic, too." The essay referenced studies that found many goods and services to be inelastic over the long run, as well as offering a supposed theoretical proof; he ended by announcing that his next essay would demonstrate that the price system does not exist. Another essay, on "Truth in Teaching," described the consequences of a (fictional) set of court decisions that held universities legally responsible for the consequences of teaching errors.

The Stigler Diet was named after him.

Stigler was born in Seattle, Washington, attended the University of Washington and Northwestern University, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1938. He spent much of World War II at Columbia University, performing mathematical and statistical research for the Manhattan Project. He later served on the Columbia faculty from 1947 to 1958.

Stigler was a founding member of the Mont Pelerin Society, and served as its president from 1976 to 1978.

He also received National Medal of Science in 1987.



  • (1941) Production and Distribution Theories: 1870-1895. New York: Macmillan.
  • (1961). “The Economics of Information,” Journal of Political Economy, June. (JSTOR)
  • (1962). The Intellectual and the Marketplace. Selected Papers, no. 3. Chicago: University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.
  • (1963). (With Paul Samuelson) "A Dialogue on the Proper Economic Role of the State." Selected Papers, no.7. Chicago: University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.
  • (1963). Capital and Rates of Return in Manufacturing Industries. National Bureau of Economic Research, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • (1965). Essays in the History of Economics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • (1970). (With J.K. Kindahl) The Behavior of Industrial Prices. National Bureau of Economic Research, New York: Columbia University Press.
  • (1971). "The Theory of Economic Regulation." Bell Journal of Economics and Management Science, no. 3,pp. 3-18.
  • (1975). Citizen and the State: Essays on Regulation.
  • (1982). "The Process and Progress of Economics," Nobel Memorial Lecture, 8 December (with bibliography).
  • (1982). The Economist as Preacher, and Other Essays. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • (1983). The Organization of Industry.
  • (1985). Memoirs of an Unregulated Economist, autobiography.
  • (1986). The Essence of Stigler (ISBN 0-8179-8462-3) essays edited by Kurt R. Leube.
  • (1987). The Theory of Price, Fourth Edition. New York: Macmillan.
  • (1988), ed. Chicago Studies in Political Economy.

See also


  • "Stigler, George Joseph" by Peter Newman, v. 4, p. 498.
  • "Stigler as an historian of economic thought" by Thomas Sowell, v. 4, pp. 498-99.
  • "Stigler's contribution to microeconomics and industrial organization," by Richard Schmalensee, v. 4, pp. 499-500


  • Diamond, Arthur M., Jr. (2005). "Measurement, Incentives, and Constraints in Stigler's Economics of Science." The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought 12, no. 4637-63.
  • Freedman, Craig (2003). "Do Great Economists Make Great Teachers? George Stigler as a Dissertation Supervisor," Journal of Economic Education,34(3), pp. 282-290 (press +.
  • Friedman, Milton (1993). "George Stigler: A Personal Reminiscence," Journal of Political Economy 101(5) pp. 768-773.
  • _____ (1998). "George J. Stigler, 1911-1991." Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences press,online, with bibliography.
  • Hammond, J. Daniel, and Claire H. Hammond, ed. (2006). Making Chicago Price Theory: Friedman-Stigler Correspondence, 1945-1957. Routledge. 165 pp. ISBN 0-415-70078-7.
  • Levy, David M., and Sandra J. Peart. (2008). "Stigler, George Joseph (1911–1991)." The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition. Abstract.
  • The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics (1987):

External links



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