George Akerlof was born in 1940 in New Haven, Connecticut, where his parents, Swedish immigrant Gustav, and German-Jewish descended Rosalie, were both graduate students in chemistry. His father, a research chemist, was involved in the Manhattan Project, as was his maternal uncle, Joseph Hershfelder, a famous physical chemist. This family emphasis on chemistry and physical science led George to feel inferior as a youth to his older brother, Carl, who would become a physicist.
Akerlof was somewhat sickly when young, and admits to having been in a circle of friends “who in today’s terminology would be called nerds.” He remembers first thinking of economics at the age of 11 when he independently discovered the principle of the multiplier while contemplating the possible unemployment of his father, an early signal of his lifelong interest in the problem of unemployment.
Akerlof received his B.A. and his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1962 (Bachelor of Arts) and 1966 (Doctor of Philosophy Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., USA) respectively, following in the footsteps of his parents and his brother.
Assistant Professor, Association Professor, University California Berkeley, 1960-1970, 1970-1971. Senior Economics, United States President's Council Economics Advisers, 1973-1974. Visiting Research Economics, Board Governors, Federal Reserve Board, 1977-1978.
Professor, London School of Economies and Political Science, London, United Kingdom, 1978-1980. Visiting Professor, Indian State Institute, Institution, Planning Unit, New Delhi, 1967-1968. Professor, University California Berkeley, since 1977.
Editorial Boards, American Economic Review, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organization.