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Leontief Home | Other Recipients

2004 Leontief Prize
Awarded to Robert Frank and Nancy Folbre

Tufts University’s Global Development And Environment Institute awarded its fourth annual economics prize to Robert Frank, Professor of Economics at Cornell University and Nancy Folbre, Professor of Economics at UMass Amherst for their outstanding contributions to economic theory. The awards were presented at a ceremony at Tufts on Thursday, April 8th, where the recipients answered the questions "Is it inevitable that the rich get richer and the powerful get more powerful in America? Will inequality increase without limit? Can we envision a more just and equitable society, and could there be practical policies to bring it about?"


Professor Robert Frank

Robert Frank, author of Luxury Fever: Money and Happiness in and Era of Excess and The Winner-Take-All Society, explained the forces that drive the economic system toward greater inequality and excessive consumption, while Nancy Folbre, author of The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values and The Ultimate Field Guide to the US Economy, discussed how to promote a more humane and cooperative economic system.

 


Professor Nancy Folbre accepting her award from William Moomaw and Neva Goodwin

Professor Folbre is well known for her work exploring the interrelations of feminist theory and political economy [see text of Folbre's remarks]. She has investigated the economics of gender and families, and the importance of non-market production in economic and social development. Her recent work explores the reasons why the work of parents, nurses, teacher others who provide “caring labor” is undervalued and underpaid, and how the situation could be remedied. She has also been a leader in promoting popular economic literacy.


Professor Frank has brought public attention to the social and economic impacts of competition – in particular, "positional" competition in which each person strives to improve his or her position in society relative to everyone else. The majority of those who play this game will inevitably feel like losers. Frank has also pointed to the wastage in a “star” or “winner-take-all” system, in which huge rewards motivate many to compete for a few top positions, again creating a large number of losers. Policies to limit these kinds of competition would have the rare combination of increasing both economic efficiency and equality, while reducing human discontent.


Professor Robert Frank accepting his award from William Moomaw and Neva Goodwin.

From left to right: Robert Frank, Nancy Folbre, William Moomaw, Neva Goodwin, and Fletcher Dean Stephen Bosworth


 

 

 

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