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William S. Vickrey Ph.D.

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1996
Co-nobelist: James A. Mirrlees

Economist, Mathematician. 'Fundamental contributions to economic theory of incentives under asymmetric information.' Solve real world problems. Interests: efficiency of public services, irrational budget accounting, excessive concern with inflation, insufficient attention to wasteful unemployment, macroeconomic stabilization, ethics, philosophy, world peace.

Rip van Winkle award for deep, uninterrupted concentration while attending seminars.


1. An Indian economist stated that Vickrey had been the most helpful of foreign economic advisors. Vickrey had made new time tables, reduced energy consumption and improved service.

2. I have often heard a younger colleague report: "I went to give a talk at Columbia. There sat that tall white-haired man, asleep with his head against the wall. All of a sudden, without raising an eyelid, he mumbled the most penetrating question, and I wondered for a while whether I still had a paper…" Vickrey's biographer Jacques H. Drèze.

Drawing: Ami Mowris

Name: William Spencer Vickrey
Birth: 21 June 1914, Victoria, BC, Canada
Death: 11 October 1996, Harrison, NY, USA
Institution: Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
Award: "for their fundamental contributions to the economic theory of incentives under asymmetric information"
Subject: economics of information
Portion of Prize: 1/2
Ph.D. Economics, Columbia University 1948. Doctorial dissertation, Agenda for Progressive Taxation, was reprinted as an "economic classic" in 1972.