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Media Advisory


NSF PA/M 03-20 - April 1, 2003

NSF Hosts Talk by George Akerlof, 2001 Nobel Laureate, on "Economics and Identity"
Distinguished economist to discuss applying the sociological concept of "identity" to economics

George A. Akerlof, University of California, Berkeley economics professor and author of the classic paper "The Market for Lemons," which led to a Nobel Prize, speaks at the National Science Foundation (NSF), Apr. 2 on how the concept of identity - one's sense of oneself as a particular type of person - can be incorporated into a general model of economic behavior. He will discuss this approach to the economics of the workplace, education, violent crime, the modeling of politics and other significant economic questions.

Akerlof shared a 2001 Nobel Prize with Stanford University's A. Michael Spence and Columbia University's Joseph E. Stiglitz for their contributions to the foundations of the theory of markets with asymmetric information - that is, that agents on one side of the market have much better information than those on the other side. Asymmetric information can lead to higher prices, lower quality and even the complete collapse of financial, product and other markets. In "The Market for Lemons" Akerlof analyzed a market where the seller has more information than the buyer regarding the quality of the product, as in the market for used cars. The lack of complete information prospective car buyers display leads sellers of "lemons," low quality cars, to crowd out everyone else from the markets.

Akerlof's talk is based on his current work with colleague Rachel Kranton of the University of Maryland. They incorporate identity into economic theory with the belief that it may change how economists in the future interpret such things as gender discrimination, poverty and division of labor in the household.

Akerlof's NSF-supported work includes: the theory of the business cycle and measurement of its impact; cognitive dissonance and economic theory; studies in labor markets that measured impacts of job changes and unemployment, and the effects of taxes on labor supply; and several studies of the economics and behavior in primarily low income, urban areas.



George A. Akerlof, Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley


Distinguished Lecture, "Economics and Identity"


Wednesday, April 2, 2003
10-11:30 a.m.


National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Blvd., Room 110 (Enter at 9th " Stuart Sts. Entrance)
Arlington, Va.

For more information on Akerlof, see:
For more information on Akerlof's Nobel Prize, see:
For other information, contact: Bill Noxon, (703) 292-8070,


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