Ken Arrow receiving the National Medal of Science from President George W. Bush.
Ken Arrow and W. Brian Arthur at the Santa Fe Institute.
Takatoshi Ito, Ken Arrow, and John Geanakoplos in November 2016 at Columbia University, just before Geanakoplos delivered the Arrow Lecture.
Ken Arrow with his nephew, the former U. S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, during an event on global health security at SIEPR in March 2016.
(The tension between what we wish for and what we can get,...)
The tension between what we wish for and what we can get, between values and opportunities, exists even at the purely individual level. A hermit on a mountain may value warm clothing and yet be hard-pressed to make it from the leaves, bark, or skins he can find. But when many people are competing with each other for satisfaction of their wants, learning how to exploit what is available becomes more difficult. In this volume, Nobel Laureate Kenneth J. Arrow analyzes why - and how - human beings organize their common lives to overcome the basic economic problem: the allocation of scarce resources. The price system is one means of organizing society to mediate competition, and Arrow analyzes its successes and failures. Alternative modes of achieving efficient allocation of resources are explored: government, the internal organization of the firm, and the 'invisible institutions' of ethical and moral principles. Professor Arrow shows how these systems create channels to make decisions, and discusses the costs of information acquisition and retrieval. He investigates the factors determining which potential decision variables are recognized as such. Finally, he argues that organizations must achieve some balance between the power of the decision makers and their obligation to those who carry out their decisions - between authority and responsibility.
(Unlike the papers of some other great economists, those o...)
Unlike the papers of some other great economists, those of Kenneth Arrow are being read and studied today with even greater care and attention than when they first appeared in the journals. The publication of his collected papers will therefore be welcomed by economists and other social scientists and in particular by graduate students, who can draw from them the deep knowledge and the discernment in selection of scientific problems that only a master can offer. The author has added headnotes to certain well-known papers, describing how he came to write them. The third volume of Kenneth Arrow's Collected Papers concerns the basic concept of rationality as it applies to an economic decision maker. In particular, it addresses the problem of choice faced by consumers in a multicommodity world and presents specific models of choice useful in economic analysis. It also discusses choice models under uncertainty, giving the basic theory and critiques of this theory based on experimental evidence and applications. Among the major papers are "Alternative Approaches to the Theory of Choice in Risk-Taking Situations," a masterly survey of subjective probability and choice theory, and "The Theory of Risk Aversion," an exposition of the theory of choice under uncertainty.
(Originally published in 1951, Social Choice and Individua...)
Originally published in 1951, Social Choice and Individual Values introduced “Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem” and founded the field of social choice theory in economics and political science. This new edition, including a new foreword by Nobel laureate Eric Maskin, reintroduces Arrow’s seminal book to a new generation of students and researchers. "Far beyond a classic, this small book unleashed the ongoing explosion of interest in social choice and voting theory. A half-century later, the book remains full of profound insight: its central message, ‘Arrow’s Theorem,’ has changed the way we think.”—Donald G. Saari, author of Decisions and Elections: Explaining the Unexpected
Arrow graduated from Townsend Harris High School. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the City College of New York in 1940 in mathematics. Also Kenneth earned his Master of Science degree in 1941 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1951 from Columbia University.
He received the honorary degrees of Doctor of Laws from the University of Chicago in 1967 and the City University of New York in 1972, and also a Doctor of Social and Economic Sciences degree from the University of Vienna in 1971.
Arrow served as a weather officer in the United States Army Air Corps rising to the rank of Captain from 1942 to 1946. He began his career as a research associate of the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics at the University of Chicago in 1946 and was promoted to an assistant professor of economics in 1948. Also Kenneth worked at the RAND Corporation in California.
Then in 1949, he was appointed an acting assistant professor of economics and statistics at Stanford University and remained there until 1968.
Arrow was economist on the staff of the United States Council of Economic Advisors in 1962, executive head of the Department of Economics at Stanford in 1953-1956 and again in 1962-1963.
In 1968, Kenneth was appointed a professor of economics at Harvard University, but in 1979 he returned to Stanford University as Joan Kenney Professor of Economics and professor of economics, statistics and operations research. Since 1991 Arrow has been a professor emeritus at the same university.
(Originally published in 1951, Social Choice and Individua...)2012
(Unlike the papers of some other great economists, those o...)1984
(The tension between what we wish for and what we can get,...)1974
Arrow showed, in one of his earliest articles, published in 1951, that a competitive economy in equilibrium is efficient. In addition, he demonstrated that an efficient allocation could be reached if a government uses lump-sum taxes to transfer wealth and then lets the market work toward equilibrium. One implication of his findings is that, if a government chooses to redistribute income, it should do so directly rather than through price regulations that could hamper the free market.
Arrow was also one of the first economists to note the existence of a learning curve. His basic idea was that as producers increase output of a product, they gain experience and become more efficient.
His most startling thesis, built on elementary mathematics, was the "impossibility theorem" or "Arrow’s theorem", which holds that, under certain conditions of rationality and equality, it is impossible to guarantee that a ranking of societal preferences will correspond to rankings of individual preferences when more than two individuals and alternative choices are involved.
Arrow was a vice president and president of Econometric Society, member of American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Academy of Sciences, American Economic Association, American Philosophical Society and International Society for Inventory Research.
He was also a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences from 1956 to 1957 and fellow of Churchill College in Cambridge between 1963-1964 and again in 1970.
In 1947, Kenneth Arrow married Selma Schweitzer. They have 2 sons.