George Akerlof

George Arthur Akerlof ( born June 17, 1940 in New Haven, Connecticut) is an American economist and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001. Akerlof is a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley.


Akerlof studied at Yale and a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After working as a professor in India and the London School of Economics, he spent most of his career at the University of California at Berkeley, where he still teaches today. He is married to economist Janet Yellen, the long presided during the presidency of Bill Clinton's one time the staff of the Economic Adviser and since February 2014, is head of the fed.

Akerlof is considered critics of the efficient market hypothesis. In his most famous essay, The Market for Lemons, he examined the mechanisms of the used car market and showed that free markets do not work, when buyers and sellers have unequal access to information. Since incompletely informed prospective buyers can not distinguish between low-grade and high-order offers, they are not willing to pay reasonable prices for better cars. Their owners are reluctant to offer them.

In the essay Economics and Identity and later work published in 2000 Akerlof introduced together with the American economist Rachel Kranton social identity in the formal economic analysis a. With the inclusion of social psychology and many other fields outside of economics argue Akerlof and Kranton that preferences are formed not only a result of usual decision variables such as income and price. They also depend on social norms of how people should behave. The standards in turn that someone follows are co-determined by his social identity.

In 2001 he received together with Joseph E. Stiglitz and Michael Spence the price of the Swedish Riksbank Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for their work on the relationship between information and markets, in particular the adverse selection.

Akerlof is one of the sharpest critics of the policies of U.S. President George W. Bush. In 2003 he signed with other academics two public letters of protest against the U.S. government policy. One was directed against planned tax cuts, the other against a unilateral pre-emptive war in Iraq. In an interview with Der Spiegel in July 2003 he said: I think that this government is the worst in the more than 200 - year history of the United States. It has engaged in extraordinarily irresponsible not only in foreign and economic but also in social and environmental policy. This is not normal government policy. For the population, the time has come to engage in civil disobedience.

In January 2007, he pleaded in an address to the American Economic Association for Rehabilitation of Keynesianism and criticized the neoclassical theory, because these social norms neglected in their utility functions.

He is co-founder of the end of October 2009 founded the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET ) to develop new approaches for the economics.



  • Rachel E. Kranton: Identity Economics: How Our Identities Shape Our ​​Work, Wages, and Well -Being, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2010, ISBN 978-0-691-14648-5. German: Identity Economics: Why we tick quite different from what most economists think. Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, 2011. ISBN 978-3-446-42696-2.

Editorial Boards

  • Efficiency wage models of the labor market. Cambridge 1990, ISBN 0-521-32156-5.


  • The Market for ' Lemons ': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism. In: The Quarterly Journal of Economics. Volume 84, No. 3, August 1970, p 488-500.