Edmund Phelps was born in 1933 in Evanston, Ill., spent his childhood in Chicago and, from age six, grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. He earned his B.A. from Amherst in 1955 and his Ph.D. from Yale in 1959. He is McVickar Professor of Political Economy at Columbia University, Director of Columbia’s Center on Capitalism and Society, and the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics. His career began with a stint at the RAND Corporation. Back east in 1960, he held appointments at Yale and its Cowles Foundation until 1966, then a professorship for five years at Penn. In 1970 he moved to New York and joined Columbia in 1971.
Phelps’s work can be seen as a program to put “people as we know them” back into economic models – to take into account the incompleteness of their information and their knowledge and to study the effects of their expectations and beliefs on the workings of markets. He has adopted this perspective in studying unemployment and inclusion, economic growth, business swings and economic dynamism.
Phelps holds many honorary doctorates and professorships, including from the Université libre de Bruxelles (2010), Tsinghua University (2007) and the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (2006), among others. Phelps is a Fellow of the National Academy of Science and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association, and in 2001 a Festschrift conference was held in his honor. In 2008, he was named Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur and awarded the Premio Pico della Mirandola and the Kiel Global Economy Prize. The same year the UBA Law School established the Catedra Phelps and the Phelps Medal for Innovation.
In 2010, he was appointed Dean of New Huadu Business School at Minjiang University in Fuzhou. In 2011, Professor Phelps received the Louise Blouin Creative Leadership Award and was named a Full Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and in 2012 he was elected an Honorary Patron of the University Philosophical Society of Trinity College and was awarded the Mendeleev Medal for Achievement in the Sciences.
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