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Nobel Prize–winning economist George A. Akerlof to discuss “Identity Economics” at Vassar on February 9, 2011.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY— George A. Akerlof, winner of the 2001 Nobel prize in economics, will present the 2011 Martin H. Crego lecture, "Identity Economics," on Wednesday, February 9, at 5:00 pm in the Blodgett Hall Auditorium. Free and open to the public, the annual Martin H. Crego lecture is sponsored by the Economics Department.

Akerlof will discuss the content of his most recent book, Identity Economics: How Our Identities Shape Our Work, Wages, and Well-Being (2010), which was coauthored with colleague Rachel E. Kranton. Identity Economics argues that the missing element in conventional economic analyses is identity—why people facing the same economic circumstances make different choices. Seeking to bridge a critical gap in the social sciences by bringing the consideration of identity and norms to the study of economics, Identity Economics examines how people's notions of what is proper, and what is forbidden, and for whom, are fundamental to how hard they work, and how they learn, spend, and save. Thus people's identity—their conception of who they are, and of who they choose to be—may be the most important factor affecting their economic lives. And the limits placed by society on people's identity can also be crucial determinants of their economic well-being.

George A. Akerlof is the Daniel E. Koshland Sr. Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. He received the Alfred E. Nobel Prize in Economic Science in 2001 (with Michael Spence and Joseph E. Stiglitz) for his theory of asymmetric information and its effect on economic behavior. Akerlof was educated at Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his PhD in 1966, the same year he became an assistant professor at Berkeley. He became a full professor in 1978. He is a past president of the American Economic Association and currently serves as a Director of the National Bureau of Economic Research. His other recent publications include Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism (2009) with co-author Robert J. Shiller.

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Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, January 17, 2011