Paul G. Ellis points out that if the award of Nobel prizes this century is quantified per capita, then the US lead over other countries seems rather less impressive (“And the awards go to…”, Letters, 13 August). Moreover, it should be noted that the majority of US awards are for “economic sciences”. Leaving aside the issue of whether economics is any more a science than astrology, many people (including the Nobel family) question whether the prize for economics should be recognised as a Nobel prize at all. It was not part of Alfred Nobel’s original dispensation, and was established by the Swedish central bank only in 1968. The prize has consistently been awarded to orthodox neoclassical, free-market economists and people who invent supposedly foolproof algorithms for stock-market speculation. It is no surprise, therefore, that American economists have garnered the greatest number of “Nobel” prizes for their country.
Leverhulme research fellow, University of Sussex