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Nobel-winning economist worried prize phone call was prank


New York: The British-born winner of the Nobel Economics Prize joked today that he worried the telephone call from Sweden alerting him of the award might have been a prank.

Angus Deaton, who was honored for groundbreaking work on poverty and data collection, knew he had been on the shortlist but said he never thought winning would be very likely.

“I was not lying in bed at six o’clock this morning thinking ‘oh that phone call should come,'” the 69-year-old academic told a news conference at Princeton University, where he is a professor.

“There was a very Swedish voice, which is almost enough, who said I would like to speak to professor Angus Deaton, there is a very important telephone call for him from Stockholm.

“And then I had a pretty good idea what it was and then they said some very nice things about me, which was very nice,” he said to laughter.

“Then they were very keen to make sure I did not think it was a prank… And of course as soon as they said that I thought ‘oh my gosh, maybe this is a prank,'” he said.

Deaton said he steadied himself by recognizing the voices of two members of the Nobel committee, whom he knows.

“I thought if this is a prank, it’s a very, very good prank,” he said. “I must have said thank you about 150 times.”

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences praised his groundbreaking work using household surveys to show how consumers, particularly the poor, decide what to buy and how policymakers can help them, which it said had helped to transform modern microeconomics, macroeconomics and development economics.

Deaton has been based at Princeton for more than 30 years and holds dual British-US citizenship.

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