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Scottish economist Angus Deaton awarded Nobel Prize

Deaton's poverty research has 'greatly influenced' policymaking and the scientific community, says Swedish academy

Princeton University's Angus Deaton has won the Nobel Prize in economics for "his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Monday.

Deaton, 69, was born in Edinburgh but now works at Princeton in New Jersey. He holds both U.S. and British citizenship.

The academy said Deaton's research concerns issues of "immense importance for human welfare, not least in poor countries" and has "greatly influenced" practical policymaking as well as the scientific community.

"To design economic policy that promotes welfare and reduces poverty, we must first understand individual consumption choices," the award-giving body said on announcing the $978,000 prize. "More than anyone else, Angus Deaton has enhanced this understanding."

It said Deaton's work revolves around three central questions: How do consumers distribute their spending among different goods; how much of society's income is spent and how much is saved; and how do we best measure and analyze welfare and poverty?

In a press conference following the announcement, Deaton described himself as "someone who's concerned with the poor of the world and how people behave, and what gives them a good life." He said he is delighted to have won the prize and was pleased that the committee decided to award work that concerns the poor people of the world. And though he said he expects extreme poverty in the world to continue decreasing, he insisted that he doesn't want to be "blindly optimistic."

He said there are "tremendous health problems among adults and children in India, where there has been a lot of progress." He noted that half of the children in the country are "still malnourished" and "for many people in the world, things are very bad indeed."

Last year, French economist Jean Tirole won the award for his research on market power and regulation.

The economics prize was established in 1968 by Sweden's central bank. It was not part of the original group of awards set out in dynamite tycoon Alfred Nobel's 1895 will. 

Monday's announcement concludes this year's presentations of Nobel winners.

The medicine prize went to three scientists from Japan, the U.S. and China who discovered drugs to fight malaria and other tropical diseases. Japanese and Canadian scientists won the physics prize for discovering that tiny particles called neutrinos have mass, and scientists from Sweden, the U.S. and Turkey won the chemistry prize for their research into the way cells repair damaged DNA.

Belarusian investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich won the literature award, while the peace prize went to The National Dialogue Quartet in Tunisia for its contribution to building democracy in Tunisia following the 2011 Jasmine Revolution.

The awards will be handed out on Dec. 10 at lavish ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo. 

Wire services

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