A. Michael Spence, Ph.D. ’72, former dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), won the Nobel Prize for Economics yesterday, Oct. 10, for economic theories based on his doctoral thesis. Spence, Philip H. Knight Professor Emeritus and former dean at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, shares the award with economists George A. Akerlof and Joseph E. Stiglitz.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel, officially called the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, to Spence, Akerlof, and Stiglitz “for their analyses of markets with asymmetric information.” Markets are characterized by asymmetric information when actors on one side have much better information than those on the other: for instance, borrowers who know more than lenders about their repayment prospects.
Spence was Dean of FAS from 1984 to 1990. He became a professor of economics at Harvard in 1977, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School in 1979, and chairman of the Economics Department in 1983.
– Beth Potier