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Richard Thaler Wins 2005 Paul A. Samuelson Award


Richard Thaler has won the 2005 Paul A. Samuelson Award for outstanding scholarly writing on lifelong financial security for his research Save More Tomorrow: Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Savings. Thaler is the Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

The award is given by the TIAA-CREF Institute, the research and educational arm of TIAA-CREF, a pension system for people employed in education and research in the U.S.

Thaler becomes the fourth current or former Chicago GSB faculty member to win the award since its inception 2000.

Named in honor of the Nobel laureate economist and University of Chicago alumnus Paul A. Samuelson, the award is given each year in recognition of an outstanding research publication containing ideas that the public and private sectors can use to maintain and improve Americans’ financial well-being.

Thaler’s co-author of the Save More Tomorrow research, Shlomo Benartzi of UCLA, was honored as a co-recipient of the 2005 Samuelson Award. Their winning paper was published in the Journal of Political Economy in February 2004.

The Save More Tomorrow plan allows employees to allocate a portion of their future salary increases toward retirement savings. Contributions increase on each scheduled pay raise until the contribution rate reaches a preset maximum. Employees can opt out of the plan at any time.

The award will be presented at the annual meeting of the Allied Social Science Association, January 6 in Boston.

Thaler’s research lies in the gap between economics and psychology. He investigates the implications of relaxing the standard economic assumption that everyone in the economy is rational and selfish, instead entertaining the possibility that some of the agents in the economy are sometimes human.

Thaler is director of the Center for Decision Research at Chicago GSB. During the spring academic quarter he will teach a course in managerial decision making. Earlier in the year he taught a course in behavioral economics.

John Cochrane, the Myron Scholes Professor of Finance at Chicago GSB, won the Samuelson Award in 2001. Brigitte Madrian, a former faculty member at the school, won in 2002 and Nicholas Barberis, also a former member of the faculty, won the inaugural award in 2000.

Thaler and Benartzi share the 2005 award with Jonathan Berk and Richard Green for their research Mutual Fund Flows and Performance in Rational Markets, published in the Journal of Political Economy, December 2004.

The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business is one of the oldest and largest business schools in the world. It offers full-time and part-time MBA programs, a Ph.D. program, open enrollment executive education and custom corporate education. The school has campuses in London and Singapore in addition to two campuses in Chicago.