Who was 'Thomas C. Schelling'

Thomas C. Schelling is an American economist who won the 2005 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, along with Robert J. Aumann, for his research on conflict and cooperation via game theory. His research has been used in conflict resolution and war avoidance. Many of his research interests have been related to national security, energy and environmental policy, and ethical issues in public policy and business. Mr. Schelling died on December 13, 2016.

BREAKING DOWN 'Thomas C. Schelling'

Thomas Crombie Schelling was born in California on April 14, 1921. He graduated from San Diego High School and went on to attend the University of California, Berkeley. He graduated from there with a degree in economics in 1944. After spending a year and a half with the U.S. Bureau of the Budget, he enrolled at Harvard University and completed the Ph.D. program in 1948.

Professional Life

Mr. Schelling held several professional positions during his career, all of which aided his theoretical contributions to economics. After completing his studies at Harvard, he joined the team in charge of administering the Marshall Plan, a U.S.-backed plan to rebuild Europe following World War II. He joined the White House Staff of the foreign policy advisor to the President in 1950, which later became the Office of the Director for Mutual Security. In 1953, Mr. Schelling left that position to join the faculty at Yale University. In 1956, he joined the RAND Corporation. He later taught at both Harvard and the University of Maryland School of Public Policy.

Contributions to Economic Theory

Mr. Schelling is best known for his studies and theories on strategic behavior, or anticipating the behavior of others, and wrote many books and articles on the topic. In 1960, he wrote The Strategy of Conflict, which studied what Schelling referred to as "conflict behavior." The book introduced far-reaching concepts like "focal point," which is also known as the Schelling point, and refers to a solution reached by non-communicating parties in a negotiation based on each party's expectation of what the other party will do. He wrote a series of papers, which were later published as the book Micromotives and Macrobehavior in 1978, regarding the dynamics of racial change in American neighborhoods. These works produced the now ubiquitous term "tipping point," which, in economics, refers to the point in time when a group changes its behavior to adopt a previously unusual or rare practice. In Schelling's works, he described the tipping point at which white flight occurred from urban areas as minority populations became more prevalent. Mr. Schelling's works have been influential in these and many other fields of economic research.

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