French economist who won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1988 for his contributions to the concept of efficiency in the use of resources via the price system. He also devised the ‘Allais Paradox’, a carefully constructed example that contradicts expected utility theory, the theory that underlies modern concepts of rational decision-making.
Allais is also celebrated for his attempt to verify a particular formulation of the demand for money, which he offered as a restatement of the quantity theory of money in opposition to an earlier restatement by US economist Milton Friedman. He was also the first to demonstrate the ‘golden rule of capital accumulation’, years before Edmund Phelps and Joan Robinson.
Allais studied economics at the École Polytechnique and École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris in the early 1930s, becoming an Ingénieur-Doctor at the University of Paris in 1949. After service with the French railways (1937-43), and wartime service with the Army of the Alps, he became director of the Mining Bureau of Documentation and Statistics (1943-48) and professor of economics at the École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris (1943-88), held concurrently with a directorship of research at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) (1946-80).
He received many awards for his work, including the Gold Medal of CNRS, the most distinguished honour in French science, in 1978. In 1989, he was named commander of the French Legion of Honour, the first economist to receive this award.
His publications include Traité d'Economie Pure/Treatise on Pure Economics (1952), Economie et Intérêt/Economy and Interest (1947), Les Fondements Comptables de la Macro-économique/The National Income Accounts of Macroeconomics (1954), L'Europe Unie, Route de la Prosperité/The European Union, Route to Prosperity (1959), Le Tiers-Monde au Carrefour/The Third World at the Crossroads (1961), Customs Unions and Trade Agreements (1974), La Théorie Générale des Surplus/The General Theory of the Surplus (1981), Combats pour l'Europe 1992-1994/Battles for Europe 1992-1994 (1994), and Auto-Portraits d'un Autodidacte/Self-Portrait of an Autodidact (1998).
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