Thomas Schelling

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Thomas Schelling
Thomas Schelling.jpg
Born(1921-04-14)14 April 1921
Died13 December 2016(2016-12-13) (aged 95)
Bethesda, Maryland, United States
NationalityUnited States
InstitutionYale University
Harvard University
University of Maryland
New England Complex Systems Institute
FieldGame theory
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Harvard University
Yale University
ContributionsThe Strategy of Conflict
Arms and Influence
Micromotives &
AwardsNobel Prize in Economics (2005)
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Thomas Crombie Schelling (14 April 1921 – 13 December 2016) was an American economist and professor of foreign affairs, national security, nuclear strategy, and arms control.[1]

After 1953, he left government to join the economics faculty at Yale University, and in 1958 he was appointed Professor of Economics at Harvard University. In 1969 he joined the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

In 1993, Schelling received an award from the National Academy of Sciences.[1] He also received an honorary doctorate from Yale University in 2009 as well as an honorary degree from the University of Manchester.[2]

He was awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics (shared with Robert Aumann) for "having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis".

Personal life[change | change source]

Schelling was born on 14 April 1921 in Oakland, California. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley, at Harvard University, and at Yale University.

Schelling married Corinne Tigay Saposs in 1947. They had four children. They divorced in 1991. Then, Schelling married Alice M. Coleman in 1991. They had four children.

Schelling died on 13 December 2016 in Bethesda, Maryland from complications following a hip fracture, aged 95.

Major works[change | change source]

The strategy of conflict (1960)[change | change source]

Schelling's most famous work grew out of the post-war interest in game theory and the Cold War. The book covers an area known as strategic bargaining, about how the United States could deal with the Soviet Union after World War II.[3] It is thought to be one of the hundred books that have been most influential in the West since 1945.[4] Many studies at the RAND Corporation and Herman Kahn's Hudson Institute were along similar lines. All these people knew each other and gave advice and seminars at the Pentagon and other U.S. government departments.

Arms and influence (1966)[change | change source]

Schelling's theories about war were extended in Arms and Influence.[5] The blurb states that it "carries forward the analysis so brilliantly begun in his earlier The Strategy of Conflict... and makes a significant contribution to the growing literature on modern war and diplomacy".

Micromotives and macrobehavior (1978)[change | change source]

In 1969 and 1971, Schelling published widely cited articles dealing with what he called "a general theory of tipping".[6] In these papers he showed that a preference that one's neighbors be of the same color, or even a preference for a mixture "up to some limit", could lead to total segregation. This explained the phenomenon of complete local separation of distinct groups. Once a cycle of such changes has begun, it may have a self-sustaining momentum.[7]

Global warming[change | change source]

Schelling has been involved in the global warming debate since chairing a commission for President Jimmy Carter in 1980. He believes climate change poses a serious threat to developing nations, but that the threat to the United States has been exaggerated. Drawing on his experience with the Marshall Plan after World War II, he has argued that addressing global warming is a bargaining problem; if the world is able to reduce emissions, poor countries will receive most of the benefits but rich countries will bear most of the costs.

List of books[change | change source]

  • 1951. National income behavior: an introduction to algebraic analysis. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • 1958. International economics. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
  • 1960. The strategy of conflict. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
  • 1961. Strategy and arms control. (with Morton H. Halperin) New York: The Twentieth Century Fund, and reissued with a new preface, A Pergamon-Brassey's Classic, 1985.
  • 1966. Arms and influence. New Haven CT: Yale University Press.
  • 1978. Micromotives and macrobehavior. New York: W.W. Norton.
  • 1979. Thinking through the energy problem. Committee for Economic Development.
  • 1984. Choice and consequence. Harvard University Press.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "NAS Award for Behavior Research Relevant to the Prevention of Nuclear War". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 16 February 2011.
  2. "Nobel prize winner delivers SCI annual lecture".
  3. Schelling, Thomas C. 1960. The strategy of conflict. New York: Oxford University Press.
  4. "100 Most Influential Books Since the War (TLS)".
  5. Yale University Press
  6. Thomas C. Schelling (1969) "Models of segregation", American Economic Review, 1969, 59(2), 488–493 Archived 2016-01-02 at the Wayback Machine.
       _____ (1971). "Dynamic Models of Segregation," Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 1(2), pp. 143–186 Archived 2013-11-09 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. Gladwell, Malcolm 2000. The tipping point: how little changes can make a big difference. Little, Brown. ISBN 0-349-11346-7 (pbk)

Other websites[change | change source]