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Thomas Schelling
Thomas Schelling.jpg
Lecturing at Sharif University of Technology
Born (1921-04-14)14 April 1921
Died 13 December 2016(2016-12-13) (aged 95)
Bethesda, Maryland, United States
Nationality United States
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
Harvard University
Yale University
Awards Nobel Prize in Economics (2005)

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.

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. He also received an honorary doctorate from Yale University in 2009 as well as an honorary degree from the University of Manchester.

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

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

The strategy of conflict (1960)

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. It is thought to be one of the hundred books that have been most influential in the West since 1945. 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)

Schelling's theories about war were extended in Arms and Influence. 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)

In 1969 and 1971, Schelling published widely cited articles dealing with what he called "a general theory of tipping". 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.

Global warming

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

  • 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.
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