It is now 50 years since the Nobel prize for Economics was inaugarated in 1969 so it seems a reasonable point at which to ask: “What have they done for us”, good or bad! This event kicks off a new PEP initiative asking precisely that question. Ours process will look for a people’s verdict in stark contrast to the elitism of the Nobel Prize process.
We know that although economic theory may be speculative, its impact is powerful and real. Since the 1970s, it has been closely associated with a sweeping change around the world—the “market turn.” This is what Avner Offer has called the rise of market liberalism, a movement that, seeking to replace social democracy, holds up buying and selling as the norm for human relations and society.
Our confidence in markets comes from economics, and our confidence in economics is underpinned by the Nobel Prize in Economics. Was it a coincidence that the market turn and the prize began at the same time?
Avner Offer will describe the origins and power of the most important prize in economics, explore this and related questions by examining the history of the prize, the history of economics since the prize began, and the simultaneous struggle between market liberals and social democrats in Sweden, Europe, and the United States.
His work draws on previously untapped Swedish national bank archives and providing a unique analysis of the sway of prizewinners, He will offer an unprecedented account of the real-world consequences of economics—and its greatest prize.
His presentation will be followed by discussion and then a networking reception with wine and snacks.
Avner Offer is Chichele Professor Emeritus of Economic History at the University of Oxford and a fellow of All Souls College and the British Academy.
He was educated in Jerusalem and Oxford. Initially he wrote about land tenure and the economics of war, and published Property and Politics 1870-1914(CUP, 1981), and The First World War: An Agrarian Interpretation(OUP, 1989) as well as many articles. Subsequently he focused on consumption and the quality of life with The Challenge of Affluence: Self-control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain since 1950(OUP, 2006) as well as articles and edited books on reciprocity, well-being, working-class experience, and the social determinants of obesity.
Currently he is studying the transition from Social Democracy to Market Liberalism. Articles have covered Adam Smith and the invisible hand, the economy of obligation, and the American health system. Another strand investigates the links of finance, homeownership, and household debts and assets. In 2018 he delivered the Ellen MacArthur Lectures in Cambridge on how time horizons define the boundaries between private and public enterprise.