Three US-based researchers have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for their work that shows "many of society's big questions can be answered," per the Nobel Committee. UC Berkeley's David Card has won half of the top prize "for his empirical contributions to labor economics," with the other half awarded jointly to MIT's Joshua D. Angrist and Stanford's Guido Imbens "for their methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships," per the AP and a release.
Card used natural experiments to dive deep into analyzing the labor market effects of everything from immigration and education to minimum wages. Among the big finds from his research of the early '90s: that "increasing the minimum wage does not necessarily lead to fewer jobs." Angrist and Imbens, meanwhile, helped solve the difficult problem of interpreting the data out of such natural experiments, "demonstrating how precise conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn."
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the three have "completely reshaped empirical work in the economic sciences." "Card's studies of core questions for society, and Angrist and Imbens' methodological contributions have shown that natural experiments are a rich source of knowlege," said Peter Fredriksson, chair of the Economic Sciences Prize Committee. "Their research has substantially improved our ability to answer key causal questions, which has been of great benefit for society."
Unlike the other Nobel prizes, the economics award wasn't established in the will of Alfred Nobel but by the Swedish central bank in his memory in 1968, with the first winner selected a year later. It's the last prize announced each year. The prizes for chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace were awarded last week, with winners taking home or splitting the $1.14 million cash prize and earning the Nobel's coveted gold medal. (Read more Nobel Prize in Economics stories.)