Maurice Allais

Maurice Allais
Born (1911-05-31)31 May 1911
Paris, France
Died 9 October 2010(2010-10-09) (aged 99)
Saint-Cloud,[1] near Paris
Nationality French
Field Macroeconomics
Behavioral economics
School or
Walrasian economics
Alma mater École Polytechnique
École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris
University of 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 1911  9 October 2010) was a French economist, the 1988 winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics "for his pioneering contributions to the theory of markets and efficient utilization of resources".


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 other 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 the title of doctor-engineer 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.

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 English-speaking 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) and 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’s Hereditary, Relativist and Logistic (HRL) theory of monetary dynamics contains an original theory of expectations formation that is a genuine alternative to both adaptive and rational expectations.[4] It was praised by Milton Friedman in 1968 with the following words: "This work [the HRL formulation] introduces a very basic and important distinction between psychological time and chronological time. It is one of the most important and original paper that has been written for a long time … for its consideration of the problem of the formation of expectations".[5] Allais's contribution has nevertheless been "lost": it has been absent from the debate about expectations.[6]

Allais attended the inaugural meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, but he was alonr among the attendees to refuse to sign the statement of aims because of a disagreement over the extent of property rights.[7]

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

In 1992, Maurice Allais criticised the Maastricht Treaty for its excessive emphasis on free trade. He also expressed reservations on the single European currency.[8] In 2005, he expressed similar reservations concerning the European constitution.[9]

Work in decision theory

In 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, the work was undertaken in isolation from that of John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern whose Theory of Games and Economic Behavior included the development of expected utility theory.

Interest in physics

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

  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. The claimed effect is now called the Allais effect.
  2. Anomalous irregularities in the oscillation of the paraconical pendulum, with periodicity 24hh 50min, 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.[10]


Allais died at his home in Saint-Cloud, near Paris, at the age of 99.[11]



  1. History of economic thought website. Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
  2. John Kay, Financial Times, 25 August 2010 p 9.
  3. Allais, M. (1965), Reformulation de la théorie quantitative de la monnaie, Société d’études et de documentation économiques, industrielles et sociales (SEDEIS), Paris.
  4. Friedman, M. (1968), Factors affecting the level of interest rates, in Savings and residential financing: 1968 Conference Proceedings, Jacobs, D. P., and Pratt, R. T., (eds.), The United States Saving and Loan League, Chicago, IL, p. 375.
  5. Barthalon, E. (2014), Uncertainty, Expectations and Financial Instability, Reviving Allais’s Lost Theory of Psychological Time, Columbia University Press, New York.
  7. L'Humanité (French) 17 September 1992 Archived March 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. L'Humanité (French) 26 May 2005 Archived March 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. [n]. Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
  10. "French Nobel prize winner Maurice Allais dies in Paris". BNO News. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  11. Réédition avec une nouvelle préface de Maurice Allais et son discours du 6 mars 1999 : Les Harkis un impérieux devoir de mémoire
  12. André-Jacques Holbecq, Résumé synthétique de l'ouvrage « Pour la réforme de la fiscalité », societal, 2009.


Wikiquote has quotations related to: Maurice Allais
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/19/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.