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Nobel Prize Winner Studied How People Spent Their Money

Angus Deaton speaks at a gathering at Princeton University after he was named Nobel prize winner for economics.

Angus Deaton speaks at a gathering at Princeton University after he was named Nobel prize winner for economics.

The winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences studies how people spend their money. He also has explored how spending can affect both living conditions and poverty.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is presenting the Economics Prize to Professor Angus Deaton of Princeton University in New Jersey. The Nobel committee says his research has mainly dealt with three questions: How do consumers distribute their spending among different goods? How much of society's wealth is spent and how much is saved? And, how do we best measure and study well-being and poverty?

Mr. Deaton used household surveys to collect detailed information about how families spend their money. For example in one study, the Princeton professor examined the relationship between poverty and the amount of calories in the food people ate.

The Nobel committee said Mr. Deaton’s research has shown "how the clever use of household data can shed light on issues such as the relationship between income and calorie intake, and the extent of gender discrimination with the family."

The Princeton professor was asked why he paid so much attention to household information. Mr. Deaton said that his studies were mainly about people and their behavior.

“Well, you know, it's individually… it's about people in the end, and if you don't understand… you have to understand what makes people tick, and you have to understand, you know, what's good for them. And for me it's always been about trying to understand behavior and to try to infer from that behavior, you know, how people are doing.”

The Nobel committee also praised Mr. Deaton’s work because it used detailed information about real people, not theoretical ideas. Subjects of his research have included happiness, well-being and aging.

At a press conference this week, the Nobel Prize winner said he was pleased that his work had been recognized. He told reporters he believed poverty would decrease. "I think we've had a remarkable decrease for the past 20 to 30 years. I do expect that to continue," he said.

Mr. Deaton is a citizen of both the United States and Britain. He was born in Scotland. He has served as a Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton since 1983. The Economics Prize has been offered by Sweden’s central bank in memory of Alfred Nobel since 1969. It is valued this year at $978,000.

I’m Mario Ritter.

How do you spend your money? Are you a saver or a spender? Let us know in the Comments section below or on our Facebook page.

Mario Ritter wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

consumers – n. people who buy and use goods and services

distribute – v. to choose how much of something (money) to be used for different purposes

analyze – v. to study something closely and carefully; to learn the nature and relationship of the parts of something

infer – v. to form an opinion about someone or something based on available evidence

household – adj. one or more people who live in the same home

surveys – n. studies; collecting information about a population

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