How Kenneth Arrow Revolutionized Our Understanding Of Elections And Other Big Decisions We Make

Posted by es328 at Feb 27, 2017 10:53 AM |
In an article for Forbes, Professor Eyal Winter discusses the contribution of the late Kenneth Arrow to modern economic theory
How Kenneth Arrow Revolutionized Our Understanding Of Elections And Other Big Decisions We Make

Kenneth Arrow Source: Wikipedia

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Following the death of Kenneth Arrow, Professor Eyal Winter, Professor of Economics in the School of Business, has written an article for Forbes explaining the contribution he made to modern economic theory.

Professor Winter and Kenneth Arrow, a 1972 Nobel Laureate in Economics and a founding father of modern economic theory, were friends and co-directed together a PhD Summer School in Jerusalem for 10 years.

Professor Winter said: "Arrow’s most prominent contribution, known as the Impossibility Theorem, is recognized as pathbreaking in multiple disciplines. Advanced students in economics, political science, philosophy, and computer science all study this theorem. It asserts that no voting procedure can be satisfactory, and that election outcomes can be irrational even when all voters are rational.

"Arrow sets forth three desirable properties for voting procedures: (1) efficiency, (2) consistency, and (3) no-dictatorship. He then proves that no voting procedure will allow all three to coexist. If you maintain two of them, you will have to give up the third. This brilliant but very frustrating result initiated a new research field in economics, called “Social Choice,” aimed at discovering flaws in various voting procedures and proposing remedies. The runoff procedure that will be used in a few days in France to elect the president is susceptible to such a flaw: If one candidate becomes highly unpopular (as indeed happened with François Fillon), the ranking of all the other candidates can be completely reversed."

He added: "His death is a great loss for me. It is a great loss for us economists, and for humankind in general."

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