Who was Robert E. Lucas? Know about the iconic economist here.

Robert E. Lucas was a legendary economist who had a profound impact on macroeconomics. He passed away on May 15, 2023, at the age of 85.           

May 18, 2023, 15:25 IST
Who was Robert E. Lucas?
Who was Robert E. Lucas?

Robert E. Lucas Jr., born on September 15, 1937, was  an American economist who has made significant contributions to the field of macroeconomics. He was widely recognised for his work on rational expectations theory and the Lucas critique, which revolutionised the way economists analyse and understand macroeconomic phenomena.

— Tim Kehoe 🇺🇦 (@TimTkehoe) May 15, 2023

Early Life and Education

Born and raised in Yakima, Washington, Lucas developed a keen interest in mathematics and economics from a young age. He pursued his higher education at the University of Chicago, where he earned his bachelor's degree in history in 1959. However, it was during his time at the University of California, Berkeley, where he pursued his graduate studies, that his passion for economics truly blossomed.

After completing his PhD in economics in 1964, Lucas began his academic career at Carnegie Mellon University. He spent over two decades at Carnegie Mellon, making significant strides in the field of macroeconomics. His early research focused on studying the relationship between unemployment and inflation, challenging the conventional Phillips curve trade-off.


  • Lucas's most influential contribution to economics came with his development of the rational expectations theory. In the early 1970s, he proposed that individuals form their expectations about future economic variables based on all available information, including their understanding of economic theory. This theory had profound implications for macroeconomic policy, highlighting the limitations of traditional Keynesian models and emphasising the importance of understanding how individuals respond to policy changes.
  • In addition to his work on rational expectations, he introduced the Lucas critique, which emphasised the necessity of considering the impact of policy changes on individuals' behaviour. This critique emphasised that the effectiveness of economic policies cannot be evaluated without considering how people will adjust their behaviour in response to those policies.


For his groundbreaking contributions, Lucas was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1995. The Nobel Committee recognised his efforts in reshaping macroeconomic analysis and policy-making, incorporating the crucial role of expectations and individual behaviour.

Throughout his career, Lucas held prestigious positions at various institutions, including the University of Chicago, where he returned in 1975 as a professor. He continued to publish influential research, mentoring numerous economists and shaping the field with his insights.

Robert E. Lucas's work continues to shape modern macroeconomics and remains a cornerstone of economic theory. His groundbreaking research on rational expectations and the Lucas critique has left an indelible mark on the discipline, solidifying his status as one of the most influential economists of his time. This iconic economist passed away on May 15, 2023. He was 85 years old. 

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