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Maurice Allais

Maurice Allais
Born (1911-05-31)31 May 1911
Died 9 October 2010(2010-10-09) (aged 99)
Saint-Cloud[1] near Paris
Nationality French
Field Macroeconomics
Behavioral economics
School or tradition
Walrasian economics
Alma mater École Polytechnique
École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris
Influences Léon Walras
Irving Fisher
Vilfredo Pareto
Influenced Gérard Debreu
Edmond Malinvaud
Contributions Overlapping generations model
golden rule of optimal growth
Transaction demand for money rule
Allais paradox
Awards Nobel Prize in Economics (1988)
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Maurice Félix Charles Allais (31 May 1911Template:Spaced ndash9 October 2010) was a French economist, and was the 1988 winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics "for his pioneering contributions to the theory of markets and efficient utilization of resources."

The economist

Born in Paris, France, Allais attended the Lycée Lakanal, graduated from the École Polytechnique in Paris and studied at the École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris. His academic and non-academic posts have included being Professor of Economics at the École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris (since 1944) and Director of its Economic Analysis Centre (since 1946). In 1949 he received a Doctor-Engineer title from the University of Paris, Faculty of Science. He also held teaching positions at various institutions, including at the University of Paris X-Nanterre, and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.[citation needed]

As an economist he made contributions to decision theory, monetary policy and other areas. He was reluctant to write in or translate his work into English, and many of his major contributions became known to the dominant anglophone community only when they were independently rediscovered or popularized by English-speaking economists. For example, in one of his major works, Économie et Intérêt (1947), he introduced the first overlapping generations model (later popularized by Paul Samuelson in 1958), introduced the golden rule of optimal growth (later popularized by Edmund Phelps) or described the transaction demand for money rule (later found in William Baumol's work).[2] He was also responsible for early work in Behavioral economics, which in the US is generally attributed to Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.[3]

Allais attended the inaugural meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, but alone among the attendees, refused to sign the statement of aims due a disagreement over the extent of property rights.[4]

His name is particularly associated with what is commonly known as the Allais paradox, a decision problem he first presented in 1953 which contradicts the expected utility hypothesis.

In 1992, Maurice Allais criticized the Maastricht Treaty for its excessive emphasis on free trade. He also expressed reservations on the single European currency.[5] In 2005, he expressed similar reservations concerning the European constitution.[6]

Work in decision theory

During the 1940s, Allais became interested in the theory of choice under uncertainty and developed a theory of cardinal utility. Because of wartime conditions and his commitment to publishing in French this work was undertaken in isolation from that of von Neumann and Morgenstern whose Theory of Games and Economic Behavior included the development of expected utility theory.

Interest in physics

Besides his career in economics, Maurice Allais performed experiments between 1952 and 1960 in the fields of gravitation, special relativity and electromagnetism, in order to investigate possible links between these fields. He reported three effects with respect to these experiments:

  1. An unexpected anomalous effect in the angular velocity of the plane of oscillation of a paraconical pendulum, detected during two partial solar eclipses in 1954 and 1959. This claimed effect is now called the Allais effect.
  2. Anomalous irregularities in the oscillation of the paraconical pendulum, with periodicity 24h50min, which corresponds to the tidal lunar day.
  3. Anomalous irregularities in optical theodolite measurements, with the same tidal periodicity.

Over the years, a number of pendulum experiments were performed by scientists around the world to test his findings. However, the results were mixed.[7]


Allais died on 9 October 2010 at his home near Paris at the age of 99.[8]


  • Les Lignes directrices de mon œuvre, Conférence Nobel prononcée devant l'Académie royale des Sciences de Suède;
  • À la recherche d'une discipline économique (1943) ;
  • Économie pure et rendement social (1945) ;
  • Abondance ou misère (1946) ;
  • Économie et intérêt, (1947) ;
  • La Gestion des houillères nationalisées et la théorie économique (1949) ;
  • Le Comportement de l’homme rationnel devant le risque: critique des postulats et axiomes de l’école américaine (1953) ;
  • Les Fondements comptables de la macro-économique (1954) ;
  • L'Europe unie, route de la prospérité (1959) ;
  • Le Tiers monde au carrefour (1961) ;
  • L'Algérie d'Evian (1962);[9]
  • The Role of Capital in Economic Development (Rôle du capital dans le développement économique) (1963) ;
  • Reformulation de la théorie quantitative de la monnaie (1965) ;
  • Growth Without Inflation (Croissance sans inflation) (1967) ;
  • La Libéralisation des relations économiques internationales – Accords commerciaux ou intégration économique (1970) ;
  • L'Inflation française et la croissance – Mythologies et réalité (1974) ;
  • L'Impôt sur le capital et la réforme monétaire (1976) ;
  • La Théorie générale des surplus (1978) ;
  • Les Conditions monétaires d'une économie de marchés (1987) ;
  • Autoportrait (1989) ;
  • Pour l'indexation (1990) ;
  • Les Bouleversements à l’Est. Que faire? (1990) ;
  • La Théorie générale des surplus et l'économie de marchés" (1990 – trois mémoires de 1967, 1971, 1988) ;
  • Contributions à la théorie générale de l'efficacité maximale et des surplus (1990 – quatre mémoires de 1964, 1965, 1973 et 1975) ;
  • Pour la réforme de la fiscalité[10] (1990) ;
  • L'Europe face à son avenir. Que faire? (1991) ;
  • Erreurs et impasses de la construction européenne (1992) ;
  • Combats pour l'Europe. 1992–1994 (1994) ;
  • La Crise mondiale aujourd'hui (Clément Juglar, 1999) ;
  • Nouveaux combats pour l'Europe. 1995–2002 (2002) ;
  • L'Europe en crise. Que faire? (2005) ;
  • La Mondialisation, la destruction des emplois et de la croissance, l'évidence empirique (Ed. Clément Juglar, 2007 - ISBN 978-2-908735-12-3) ;
  • Lettre aux Français – CONTRE LES TABOUS INDISCUTÉS (2009).


  1. [1]
  2. History of economic thought website. Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
  3. John Kay, Financial Times, 25 August 2010 p 9.
  5. L'Humanité (French)[dead link] 17 September 1992
  6. L'Humanité (French)[dead link] 26 May 2005
  7. [n]. Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
  8. "French Nobel prize winner Maurice Allais dies in Paris". BNO News. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  9. Réédition avec une nouvelle préface de Maurice Allais et son discours du 6 mars 1999 : Les Harkis un impérieux devoir de mémoire
  10. André-Jacques Holbecq, Résumé synthétique de l'ouvrage « Pour la réforme de la fiscalité », societal, 2009.


  • R. S. Shankland, S. W. McCuskey, F. C. Leone, and G. Kuerti, "New analysis of the interferometric observations of Dayton C. Miller", Rev. Mod. Phys. 27, 167–178 (1955).
  • R. S. Shankland, "Michelson's role in the development of relativity", Applied Optics 12 (10), 2280 (1973).

External links

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