Daniel L. McFadden
Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences 2000
Professor of Economics, University of California, USA
Co-reason for the prize:
for his development of theory and methods for analyzing discrete choice
Daniel McFadden, while continuing his studies in Physics as a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, entered an ambitious program in behavioural sciences there that was designed to produce scholars who spanned the social sciences.
He worked as a research assistant conducting experiments on behaviour and on the effects of mood-shifting drugs on social interaction. He developed an interest in mathematical models of learning and choice and made economics the lead field in his PhD program.
Following the completion of his Ph.D. in 1962, he went to the University of Pittsburgh as a Mellon postdoctoral fellow. The following year, McFadden joined UC Berkeley’s Economics Department. In just three years, he went from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor with tenure. In 1979, McFadden moved to the economics faculty at MIT. In 1991, he chose to return to UC Berkeley where he established UC Berkeley’s Econometrics Lab, and made the campus an international leader in microeconometric research.
Among his many awards and honours, McFadden received in 1975 the John Bates Clark Medal from the American Economics Association; was elected in 1977 to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and to the National Academy of Science in 1981; won the Frisch Medal from the Econometrics Society in 1986 and received the Nemmers Prize in Economics from Northwestern University.
In 2000 he was awarded the Nobel Prize “for his development of theory and methods for analysing discrete choice”.
Microeconometrics, McFadden’s field, is a methodology for studying economic information about large groups of individuals, households or firms. The statistical tools McFadden has developed are used not only by economists, but by social scientists and others as well. The methods he developed are now used routinely to study behaviour as diverse as travel demand, migration, the demand for consumer durables, college-going behaviour, occupational choice and housing location.