Kenneth Joseph Arrow
American economist known for his contributions to welfare economics
and to general economic equilibrium theory. He was cowinner (with Sir
John R. Hicks) of the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1972. Perhaps his
most startling thesis (using elementary mathematics) was the "impossibility
theorem" (or "Arrow's theorem"), which holds that, under
certain conditions of rationality and equality, it is impossible to
guarantee that a ranking of societal preferences will correspond to
rankings of individual preferences when more than two individuals and
alternative choices are involved.
Arrow received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1951 and taught
at the University of Chicago (1948-49) and Stanford University (1949-68).
From 1968 to 1979 he was professor of economics at Harvard University,
where he inspired the development of a first-rate school of economic
theorists. In 1979 he returned to Stanford University.
Among his major publications are Social Choice and Individual Values
(1951), Essays in the Theory of Risk Bearing (1971), and The Limits
of Organization (1974).