Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Kenneth Arrow

Receiving the 1972 Nobel Prize in Economics (Telegraph)
His passing hardly rated a mention in the nightly news, but Kenneth Arrow's contributions to the fields of economics and political science were unmatched among 20th-century economists:
Arrow wrote the foundational paper of general equilibrium analysis, the foundational paper of social choice and voting, the foundational paper justifying government intervention in innovation, and the foundational paper in the economics of health care.
The idea for which he was most famous, Arrow's Impossibility Theorem, showed that no voting system can aggregate the collective preferences of voters in every situation. Each will have a different weakness. He was awarded the Nobel prize in Economics in 1972.

From 2012, here's Kenneth Arrow on the Electoral College:
Oh, we know that there’s been several elections (not many), but there’s been several elections where the Plurality vote was different from the electoral vote. There, we actually have data, like 2000. So we know it makes a difference. I think I’d prefer something other than Plurality Voting. But certainly the Electoral College only adds. It doesn’t subtract. It only adds to the problem. Actually, there’s a lot of strange consequences. For example, in campaigning and power, states that are doubtful have more power than states that are clearly one party or another. There’s no reason for that to matter, to play a role. A vote in California has less and less significance. That means policies are changed.
[Update - 2/24: former Treasury Secretary and Harvard President Larry Summers remembers his Uncle Kenneth.]

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