Berkeley economist Daniel McFadden receives this year's Nobel
Prize in economics
- Daniel L. McFadden, a University of California, Berkeley,
professor who is a winner of this year's Nobel Prize in economics,
described himself this morning at a campus press conference
as "a designer of the machinery that other economists can
in the economics department of the College of Letters & Science,
is "an economist's economist," said Maurice Obstfeld, department
chair. "His scientific achievements have changed the way we
approach economic theory as well as the econometrics of individual
said that being honored with the 2000 Bank of Sweden Prize
in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel "is more than
I dreamed. I did not expect this."
raised to be modest, so it's a bit shocking to be thrust into
a position of prominence," he added. Already, McFadden has
been invited to the White House and to dinner with the King
Robert M. Berdahl reminded McFadden at the news conference
that he also wins a lifetime reserved parking space on campus.
E. Morris Cox Professor of Economics, McFadden shares the
prize with the University of Chicago's James Heckman, whom
McFadden described as "an old friend with whom I have exchanged
ideas over three decades."
Nobel brings to 17 the number of UC Berkeley faculty members
who have been awarded the prize. Prior to McFadden's win,
two other UC Berkeley professors - John Harsanyi in 1994 and
Gerard Debreu in 1983 - won the Nobel Prize in economics.
McFadden's field, is a methodology for studying economic information
about large groups of individuals, households or firms. The
statistical tools McFadden has developed are used not only
by economists, but by social scientists and others as well.
he developed are now used routinely to study behavior as diverse
as travel demand, migration, the demand for consumer durables,
college-going behavior, occupational choice and housing location,"
said Charles Manski, professor of economics at Northwestern
methods, for example, were applied in forecasting ridership
on Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains before they began
of McFadden's work, said UC Berkeley's chancellor, "is squarely
in the service of society, helping us to understand many of
its complex challenges."
work, I've always been motivated to solve the problem of the
day," said McFadden, who currently is investigating issues
facing the elderly - housing, health and finances.
Richard C. Atkinson congratulated the latest Nobel Laureate
in the UC system by saying the award "is a great personal
honor for Professor McFadden and a tribute to the world-class
caliber of the University of California's faculty." Yesterday,
two UC Santa Barbara professors also won Nobel prizes - one
in physics, the other in chemistry.
also was praised today for his work with students.
influence on the profession has been felt not only through
his own research contributions but also through the enormous
effort he has made to nurture young researchers," said Manski
from Northwestern University. Despite a day of constant phone
calls - from the Nobel committee, reporters and well wishers
- that began at 2:30 a.m., McFadden still taught an advanced
econometrics class late this afternoon.
63, grew up in rural North Carolina on a farm where there
was no electricity until he was six years old. As a teenager,
he thought he would become a psychologist. As an undergraduate
at the University of Minnesota, he worked in a cosmic ray
laboratory designing and building an X-ray telescope. But
while continuing his studies in physics as a graduate student
at the university, he was strongly attracted to the study
of human behavior. He entered an ambitious program in behavioral
sciences there that was designed to produce scholars who spanned
the social sciences.
as a research assistant conducting experiments on behavior
and on the effects of mood-shifting drugs on social interaction.
He developed an interest in mathematical models of learning
and choice and made economics the lead field in his PhD program.
the completion of his PhD in 1962, he went to the University
of Pittsburgh as a Mellon postdoctoral fellow. The following
year, McFadden joined UC Berkeley's economics department.
In just three years, he went from assistant professor to associate
professor with tenure, said Obstfeld at the news conference.
as I can gather, Dan had only one research paper in print
at the time," he said. "But anyone who had come into contact
with him or his unpublished work had already recognized his
brilliance." This included 1983 Nobel Laureate Gerard Debreu,
the department chair at the time, who, said Obstfeld, wrote
to the campus administration that McFadden would have a career
of exceptionally scholarly achievement.
McFadden moved to the economics faculty at MIT. In 1991, he
chose to return to UC Berkeley to take advantage of what he
called the campus's "intellectual resources in economics,
mathematics and statistics." He established UC Berkeley's
Econometrics Lab, which Obstfeld said has made the campus
an international leader in microeconometric research.
has had several visiting teaching appointments - at the University
of Chicago in 1966-67, at Yale University in 1976-77 and at
the California Institute of Technology in 1990.
many awards and honors, McFadden received in 1975 the John
Bates Clark Medal from the American Economics Association;
was elected in 1977 to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
and to the National Academy of Science in 1981; was selected
in 1985 to deliver the Jahnsson Foundation Lectures in Helsinki,
Finland; won the Frisch Medal from the Econometrics Society
in 1986 and, this year, received the Nemmers Prize in Economics
from Northwestern University.
said he and his wife, Beverlee Tito Simboli McFadden, have
a small farm and vineyard in Napa Valley, where they grow
and sell grapes.
that farm work gives me a chance to think about my research
problems," said McFadden, "and energizes me for university