A few years ago, former World Bank president Robert Zoellick pointed out that: "In physics, Nobel prizes are awarded for being correct while in economics they are often awarded for being brilliant." Economist Angus Deaton noted that contrast and pondered how interesting it might be to classify economics laureates into Zoellick’s two boxes. Yesterday Deaton himself won the Nobel prize for economic sciences. He clearly belongs in both boxes.
Deaton was cited for his "three to four decades" of work on consumption. No-one can work in this field without being deeply influenced by what he has done. Wherever one turns in the analysis of consumption, Deaton has been there, has seen deeply into the issue and has shaped the questions being asked. To me, his work is a model of what applied economics ought to be. No award the Nobel committee has made has pleased me as much, for the recognition it gives both him and the type of work he does.
But statisticians can also rejoice in this award, for Deaton is the type of economist who is thoroughly responsive to data.