Stiglitz, Joseph E.


Stiglitz, Joseph E.
born Feb. 9, 1943, Gary, Ind., U.S.

U.S. economist.

He received a Ph.D. (1967) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and taught at several universities, including Yale, Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia. From 1997 to 2000 he was the World Bank's chief economist but often disagreed with the organization's policies. Stiglitz helped found modern development economics, and he changed how economists think about the way markets work. His studies on asymmetric information in the marketplace showed that the poorly informed can obtain information from the better informed through a screening process, for example, when insurance companies determine the risk factors of their clients. He shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences with George A. Akerlof and A. Michael Spence.

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▪ American economist
born February 9, 1943, Gary, Indiana, U.S.

      American economist who, with A. Michael Spence (Spence, A. Michael) and George A. Akerlof (Akerlof, George A.), won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2001 for laying the foundations for the theory of markets with asymmetric information.

      After studying at Amherst College (B.A., 1964) in Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D., 1967), Stiglitz taught at several universities, including Yale, Harvard, and Stanford. He was an active member of President Bill Clinton's economic policy team; a member of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers (1993–97), of which he became chairman in June 1995; and senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank (1997–2000). In 2001 he became professor of economics, business, and international affairs at Columbia University in New York.

      Stiglitz's research concentrated on what could be done by ill-informed individuals and operators to improve their position in a market with asymmetric information. He found that they could extract information indirectly through screening and self-selection. This point was illustrated through his study of the insurance market, in which the (uninformed) companies lacked information on the individual risk situation of their (informed) customers. The analysis showed that by offering incentives to policyholders to disclose information, insurance companies were able to divide them into different risk classes. The use of a screening process enabled companies to issue a choice of policy contracts in which lower premiums could be exchanged for higher deductibles.

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Universalium. 2010.

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