Two alumni of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) won the Nobel Prize for economics Monday for their work on change and the macroeconomy.
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 Professor Christopher A. Sims of Princeton University and to Professor Thomas J. Sargent of New York University. Both scholars got their Ph.D. in economics from Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) in 1968. Sims also graduated magna cum laude in mathematics from Harvard College in 1963. The two will split the award’s $1.5 million prize.
In their award citation, the members of the academy listed some of the important questions that Sargent and Sims addressed in their research.
“How are GDP and inflation affected by a temporary increase in the interest rate or a tax cut?” they wrote. “What happens if a central bank makes a permanent change in its inflation target or a government modifies its objective for budgetary balance? This year’s laureates in economic sciences have developed methods for answering these and many other questions … ”
Sargent and Sims are the sixth and seventh Harvard alumni recognized with 2011 Nobels. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Harvard Kennedy School alumna, was a co-winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Saul Perlmutter ’81, Brian P. Schmidt, GSAS Ph.D. ’93, and Adam G. Riess, GSAS Ph.D. ’96, won the Nobel Prize in physics. For the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, the late Ralph M. Steinman, Harvard Medical School ’68, was honored posthumously.