Edmund Phelps’ Werdegang

Der Preisträger des diesjährigen Nobelpreises für Ökonomie, Edmund Phelps, ist eine Koryphäe auf seinem Gebiet. Seine Beiträge sind und bleiben so wichtig, da sie traditionelle Denkweisen verändert haben. Nach dem Zitierindex für die Sozialwissenschaften, dem Social Science Citations Index, zählt er zu den wichtigsten Wirtschaftswissenschaftlern seit Adam Smith. Sämtliche Wirtschaftswissenschaftler, die an der Makroökonomie, ihren mikroökonomischen Grundlagen, exogener und endogener Wachstumstheorie, der Erwartungsbildung und den Problemen von Information und Diskriminierung arbeiten, greifen auf Phelps zurück.

Nach einem glänzenden Schulabschluss ging Phelps ohne eine genaue Vorstellung davon, welches Fach er studieren wollte oder welche berufliche Laufbahn er ergreifen sollte, auf das Amherst College in Massachusetts. Seine Leidenschaft galt der Philosophie, aber sein Vater bestand darauf, dass er Seminare in Wirtschaft belegte.

Wie es fast immer geschieht, entschied sich Phelps für eine Laufbahn, nachdem er einem bedeutenden Professor begegnet war, in diesem Fall dem Harvard-Ökonomen James Nelson. Nach einigem Zögern entschloss sich Phelps, nach dem College weiterzustudieren. Paul Samuelson gibt zu, dass er nur deshalb einwilligte, eine Konferenz in Amherst abzuhalten, um Phelps an das MIT zu holen. Doch entschied sich Phelps für Yale, wo er in direkten Kontakt mit James Tobin und Thomas Schelling kam. Er schrieb seine Dissertation unter Tobin als Doktorvater.

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