Maurice Allais

Maurice Allais

French economist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1988 for his development of principles to guide efficient pricing and resource allocation in large monopolistic enterprises.
Allais studied economics at the Ecole Polytechnique and then at the National Superior School of Mines of Paris. In 1937 he began working for the state-owned French mine administration, and in 1944 he became a professor at the National Superior School of Mines. From the 1940s on he directed various government research bodies dealing with economics research. In 1977 he was named an officer of the Legion of Honour.

In Allais's principal works, two massive studies published in the 1940s, he examined the functioning of state-owned monopolies such as national utility companies. He laid the theoretical foundation for determining the prices of these monopolies' products or services in such a way as to offer maximal economic efficiency while still providing optimum social benefits. His principles became a guiding force for planning state enterprises in terms of prices rather than by direct (and often politically determined) regulation. Allais's theories thus offered to large state monopolies the opportunity to apply efficient market-economics principles. His work proved particularly important in view of the growth of state-owned monopolies in the economies of western Europe in the decades following World War II.


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