The Nobel Prize in Economics awarded to the Americans Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson

The Nobel Prize in economics was awarded, Monday, October 12, to the Americans Paul Milgrom, 72, and Robert Wilson, 83, two auction experts whose innovative work was used in particular in the allocation of telecom frequencies.

The two economists were awarded for having “Improved auction theory and invented new formats”, indicated the jury of the Swedish Academy of Sciences which underlines that “ auctions are everywhere and affect our daily life ”.

The duo, who were one of the favorites for the award this year, are best known for being behind the concept for the sale of telecommunications frequency band licenses in the United States. The winners, both teachers at Stanford, also worked on the mechanisms for allocating landing slots at airports.

→ DOSSIER. Nobel Prizes 2020

The official name of the latest Nobel Prize winner is the “Bank of Sweden Prize in Economics in Memory of Alfred Nobel”. It was established in 1968, with the agreement of the Nobel Foundation, by the Bank of Sweden for its 300e anniversary.

The selection process and the amount of the prize awarded are identical to the Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and Peace. The winner (s) are chosen by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in a majority vote, but the Bank of Sweden finances the endowment (€ 900,000 in 2018).

→ READ. 5 things to know about the Nobel Prize in economics

Of the 84 economists awarded, there are 59 Americans and 4 French: Gérard Debreu (1983), Maurice Allais (1988), Jean Tirole (2014) and Esther Duflo (2019). The latter is the second female winner, after the American Elinor Ostrom, in 2009.

After medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace, the Nobel Prize for economics closed a very feminine “Nobel” season, with four laureates crowned in science and literature.

The 2020 Nobel Prize List:

♦ Medicine

The Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded jointly Monday, October 5 to Briton Michael Houghton and the Americans Harvey Alter and Charles Rice for “The discovery of the hepatitis C virus”. The trio are rewarded for their “Decisive contribution” in the fight against this hepatitis, “A major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer” around the world, the Nobel jury said in the announcement.

♦ Physics

The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Roger Penrose, Andrea Ghez and Reinhard Genzel on Tuesday, October 6. Their work, although different, relates to black holes.

♦ Chemistry

The French Emmanuelle Charpentier and the American Jennifer Doudna won, on Wednesday October 7, the Nobel Prize in chemistry for the development of the “molecular scissors” Crispr-Cas9. This tool makes it possible to quickly and easily edit the genome, but raises many ethical debates.

♦ Literature

The 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to American poet Louise Glück on Thursday, October 8.

♦ Peace

By honoring the World Food Program (WFP), winner of the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, October 9, the Nobel Committee salutes an organization which helps populations who suffer from hunger in conflict zones.


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