Nobel Peace Prize

views updated Jun 08 2018

Nobel Peace Prize


The Nobel Peace Prize is an annual award established by Alfred Nobel and, according to his will, given to the person who shall have done the most or best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses. Nobel gave the Norwegians the exclusive task of selecting each years recipient, as opposed to the Swedes, who award each of the other Nobel Prizes. The Nobel Committee consists of five members selected by the Norwegian parliament (known as the Storting). Since the prizes inception, all committee members have been Norwegian nationals. Prize recipients, therefore, generally share the liberal internationalist ideals of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Over the years prizes have been given to a wide range of individuals and organizations that promote a variety of peace and human-rights issues. Recipients of the prize have included government officials, dissidents, nongovernmental organizations, and intergovernmental organizations. Between 1901when the first prizes were awarded to Henry Dunant, founder of the Red Cross, and Frédéric Passy, founder and president of the French Peace Societyand 2006, there have been 112 Nobel PeacePrizes awarded to ninety-three individuals and nineteen organizations. The International Committee of the Red Cross has received the prize three times (1917, 1944, and 1963). Branches and leaders of the United Nations as well as individuals and organizations that have worked toward conventional and nuclear disarmament have been frequent recipients of the prize.

Nobel Peace Prize recipients
1901-Henry Dunant (Switzerland), Frédéric Passy (France)
1902-Élie Ducommun (Switzerland), Charles Albert Gobat (Switzerland)
1903-William Randal Cremer (United Kingdom)
1904-Institute of International Law
1905-Bertha von Suttner (Austria)
1906-Theodore Roosevelt (United States)
1907-Ernesto Teodoro Moneta (Italy), Louis Renault (France)
1908-Klas Pontus Arnoldson (Sweden), Fredrik Bajer (Denmark)
1909-Auguste Beernaert (Belgium), Paul Henri dEstournelles de Constant (France)
1910-Permanent International Peace Bureau
1911-Tobias Michael Carel Asser (the Netherlands), Alfred Hermann Fried (Austria)
1912-Elihu Root (United States)
1913-Henri La Fontaine (Belgium)
1914-No prize given
1915-No prize given
1916-No prize given
1917-International Committee of the Red Cross
1918-No prize given
1919-Thomas Woodrow Wilson (United States)
1920-Léon Victor Auguste Bourgeois (France)
1921-Karl Hjalmar Branting (Sweden), Christian Lous Lange (Norway)
1922-Fridtjof Nansen (Norway)
1923-No prize given
1924-No prize given
1925-Sir Austen Chamberlain (United Kingdom), Charles Gates Dawes (United States)
1926-Aristide Briand (France), Gustave Stresemann (Germany)
1927-Ferdinand Buisson (France), Ludwig Quidde (Germany)
1928-No prize given
1929-Frank Billings Kellogg (United States)
1930-Nathan Söderblom (Sweden)
1931-Jane Addams (United States), Nicholas Murray Butler (United States)
1932-No prize given
1933-Sir Norman Angell (United Kingdom)
1934-Arthur Henderson (United Kingdom)
1935-Carl von Ossietzky (Germany)
1936-Carlos Saavedra Lamas (Argentina)
1937-Robert Cecil (United Kingdom)
1938-Nansen International Office for Refugees
1939-No prize given
1940-No prize given
1941-No prize given
1942-No prize given
1943-No prize given
1944-International Committee of the Red Cross
1945-Cordell Hull (United States)
1946-Emily Greene Balch (United States), John Raleigh Mott (United States)
1947-Friends Service Council (United Kingdom), American Friends Service Committee (United States)
1948-No prize given
1949-Lord Boyd Orr (United Kingdom)
1950-Ralph Bunche (United States)
1951-Léon Jouhaux (France)
1952-Albert Schweitzer (France)
1953-George C. Marshall (United States)
1954-Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
1955-No prize given
1956-No prize given
1957-Lester Bowles Pearson (Canada)
1958-Georges Pire (Belgium)
1959-Philip J. Noel-Baker (United Kingdom)
1960-Albert John Lutuli (South Africa)
1961-Dag Hammarskjöld (Sweden)
1962-Linus Pauling (United States)
1963-International Committee of the Red Cross, League of Red Cross Societies
1964-Martin Luther King Jr. (United States)
1965-United Nations Childrens Fund
1966-No prize given
1967-No prize given
1968-René Cassin (France)
1969-International Labour Organization
1970-Norman E. Borlaug (United States)
1971-Willy Brandt (West Germany)
1972-No prize given
1973-Henry A. Kissinger (United States), Le Duc Tho (North Vietnam)
1974-Seán MacBride (Ireland), Eisaku Sato (Japan)
1975-Andrei Sakharov (Soviet Union)
1976-Betty Williams (United Kingdom), Mairead Corrigan (United Kingdom)
1977-Amnesty International
1978-Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat (Egypt), Menachem Begin (Israel)
1979-Mother Teresa (India)
1980-Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (Argentina)
1981-Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
1982-Alva Myrdal (Sweden), Alfonso García Robles (Mexico)
1983-Lech Walesa (Poland)
1984-Desmond Tutu (South Africa)
1985-International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
1986-Elie Wiesel (United States)
1987-Oscar Arias Sánchez (Costa Rica)
1988-United Nations Peacekeeping Forces
1989-The Fourteenth Dalai Lama (Tibet)
1990-Mikhail Gorbachev (Soviet Union)
1991-Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma)
1992-Rigoberta Menchú (Guatemala)
1993-Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Frederik Willem de Klerk (South Africa)
1994-Yassir Arafat (Palestine), Shimon Peres (Israel), Yitzhak Rabin (Israel)
1995-Joseph Rotblat (United Kingdom), Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
1996-Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo (East Timor), José Ramos-Horta (East Timor)
1997-International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Jody Williams (United States)
1998-John Hume (United Kingdom), David Trimble (United Kingdom)
1999-Médecins Sans Frontieres
2000-Kim Dae-Jung (South Korea)
2001-United Nations, Kofi Annan (Ghana)
2002-Jimmy Carter (United States)
2003-Shirin Ebadi (Iran)
2004-Wangari Muta Maathai (Kenya)
2005-International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei (Egypt)
2006-Muhammad Yunnus Bangladesh

Controversy has surrounded some selections, as the committee has tried to balance between complying with Nobels will and using the prize to promote Norwegian interests and values. The awarding of the 1906 Peace Prize to Theodore Roosevelt is one early example of this balance. Roosevelt was the first head of state to be so honored. While the prize was given because of his involvement in the mediation of the Japanese-Russian war, the former Rough Rider enjoyed a rather bellicose reputation. Nevertheless, Roosevelt was chosen in part because Norway, which had just received its independence from Sweden in 1905, was, as one Norwegian newspaper put it, in need of a large, friendly neighbor. In addition, the prize signaled the willingness of the committee to at times award prizes based on specific actions rather than the overall peacefulness of the person in question. Prizes to such figures as Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho (1973), Yasir Arafat (1994), and Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin (1978) similarly reflect this tendency.

The Nobel Committee has also used the prize to punish, rather than reward, behavior. For example, the 1935 prize was given to Carl von Ossietzky, a German journalist and dissident who wrote scathing articles against the Nazi Party for which he was sent to a German concentration camp. The prize was given to Ossietzky as much to condemn German behavior as it was to honor Ossietzky. Other cases in which the committee has used the prize to highlight atrocities being carried out by specific governments include Shirin Ebadi of Iran in 2003, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor in 1996, Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar (Burma) in 1991, Desmond Tutu of South Africa in 1984, Lech Walesa in 1983, Martin Luther King Jr. of the United States in 1964, and Albert Lutuli of South Africa in 1960.

SEE ALSO Arafat, Yasir; Bunche, Ralph Johnson; Carter, Jimmy; Gorbachev, Mikhail; Microfinance; Peace; Rabin, Yitzhak; Truth and Reconciliation Commissions; War; War and Peace


Abrams, Irwin. 2003. The Words of Peace: The Nobel Peace Prize Laureates of the Twentieth Century, 3rd ed. New York Newmarket Press.

Lundestad, Geir. 2001. The Nobel Peace Prize 19012000. In The Nobel Prize: The First 100 Years, eds. Agneta Wallin Levinovitz and Nils Ringertz, 163196. London: Imperial College Press and World Scientific Publishing.

David R. Andersen

Economics, Nobel Prize in

views updated May 23 2018

Economics, Nobel Prize in


The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel Prize, was instituted by the Bank of Sweden (the worlds oldest central bank) for its three-hundredth anniversary in 1968, sixty-seven years after the first Nobel Prizes were awarded for other fields. Known also as the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, and less formally as the Nobel Prize in Economics, it is the only prize granted that was not specified in Alfred Nobels will. Its addition was justified as a recognition that the use of quantitative methods had made economics a science like physics and chemistry.

The Nobel Prize in Economics is awarded each year for outstanding intellectual contributions to the field of economics. The laureates are chosen by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, from nominations of about one hundred living persons made by qualified nominators each year. Prizewinners receive their award during a ceremony in Stockholm, together with the laureates in the other fields. No more than three people can share the prize for a given year. The names of the nominees can only be published after fifty years.

From 1969, when the first prize was awarded, up to 2006, fifty-eight people have received the Nobel in economics. Economics is the only discipline in which no woman has ever been awarded a Nobel. The United States has dominated the award, with forty laureates, followed by nine laureates from the United Kingdom. The University of Chicago has employed the highest number of laureates in economics, nine up to 2006, followed by Harvard University and U.C. Berkeley, with four laureates each. Out of the thirty-eight prizes awarded up to 2006, seventeen were shared. With an average age of sixty-six at the time of the award, laureates in economics are the oldest to receive the prizethe youngest are in physics, with an average age of fifty-four. The youngest person to receive the prize in economics was Kenneth Arrow, in 1972, at the age of fifty-one; the oldest was Thomas Schelling, in 2005, at the age of eighty-four.

The prize has been awarded to work ranging from theory to empirical application, from macroeconomics to microeconomics, from economic policy to economic history, and from mathematical modeling to psychology. The early awards were focused on acknowledging the past contributions of giants such as Paul Samuelson (1970), the father of the modern economic theory; Simon Kuznets (1971), the father of the empirical analysis of economic growth; John Hicks and Kenneth Arrow (1972), pioneering contributors to general economic equilibrium theory and welfare theory; Wassily Leontief (1973), who developed the input-output method and a number of applications to economic problems; and Milton Friedman (1976), whose long list of contributions include consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and stabilization policy.

The scope of the award has been broadened over the decades, while the work awarded has become more specialized. One could already see these trends in the 1980s, with prizes given for work on the theory of economic growth (Robert Solow, 1987), financial economics (James Tobin, 1981; Franco Modigliani, 1985; Harry Markowitz, Merton Miller, and William Sharpe, 1990), empirical work and econometrics (Lawrence Klein, 1980; Richard Stone, 1984; Trygve Haavelmo, 1989), and economic

Nobel Laureates in Economics, 1969-2006
Ragnar Frisch, Jan Tinbergen1969
Paul A. Samuelson1970
Simon Kuznets1971
John R. Hicks, Kenneth J. Arrow1972
Wassily Leontief1973
Gunnar Myrdal, Friedrich August von Hayek1974
Leonid Vitaliyevich Kantorovich, Tjalling C. Koopmans1975
Milton Friedman1976
Bertil Ohlin, James E. Meade1977
Herbert A. Simon1978
Theodore W. Schultz, Sir Arthur Lewis1979
Lawrence R. Klein1980
James Tobin1981
George J. Stigler1982
Gerard Debreu1983
Richard Stone1984
Franco Modigliani1985
James M. Buchanan Jr.1986
Robert M. Solow1987
Maurice Allais1988
Trygve Haavelmo1989
Harry M. Markowitz, Merton H. Miller, William F. Sharpe1990
Ronald H. Coase1991
Gary S. Becker1992
Robert W. Fogel, Douglass C. North1993
John C. Harsanyi, John F. Nash Jr., Reinhard Selten1994
Robert E. Lucas Jr.1995
James A. Mirrlees, William Vickrey1996
Robert C. Merton, Myron S. Scholes1997
Amartya Sen1998
Robert A. Mundell1999
James J. Heckman, Daniel L. McFadden2000
George A. Akerlof, A. Michael Spence, Joseph E. Stiglitz2001
Daniel Kahneman, Vernon L. Smith2002
Robert F. Engle III, Clive W. J. Granger2003
Finn E. Kydland, Edward C. Prescott2004
Robert J. Aumann, Thomas C. Schelling2005
Edmund S. Phelps2006

theory (George Stigler, 1982; Gerard Debreu, 1983; James Buchanan, 1986; Maurice Allais, 1988).

These trends have become even more apparent in recent years. Since 1990, the prize has been awarded for contributions that address economic problems with tools and results from fields outside economics, such as mathematics and game theory (John Harsanyi, John Nash and Reinhard Selten, 1994; Robert J. Aumann and Thomas Schelling, 2005), psychology (Daniel Kahneman and Vernon Smith, 2002), and philosophy (Amartya Sen, 1998). It has also been given for contributions that apply economic tools to other fields, such as work that uses microeconomic analysis to explain a wide range of human behavior and interaction (Gary Becker, 1992), and work using economic theory and quantitative methods to explain economic and institutional change in history (Robert Fogel and Douglass North, 1993). It has been awarded for econometrics (James Heckman and Daniel McFadden, 2000; Robert Engle and Clive Granger, 2003), and for broadening and deepening economic theory by incorporating transaction costs and property rights (Ronald Coase, 1991), rational expectations (Robert Lucas, 1995), and asymmetric information (George Akerlof, Michael Spence, and Joseph Stiglitz, 2001). It has also been given for work with direct policy implications, such as that addressing monetary and fiscal policy under different exchange rate regimes (Robert Mundell, 1999) and the intertemporal trade-offs in macroeconomic policy (Phelps 2006), and for contributions that were first criticized as too specialized and limited in scope, but later proved more influential and applicable than most had expected, such as the pricing formula for financial derivatives (Robert Merton and Myron Scholes, 1997).

The Nobel Prize in Economics has been a source of controversy since its introduction. Some have even suggested that the award should be discontinued. Its very name has been questioned, as it was not part of Alfred Nobels bequest. It has also been argued that the criteria for an award for a social science cannot be as objective as for the other fields, although similar concerns have been raised for the prizes for peace and literature. Indeed, this may explain why it takes much longer to receive the Nobel in Economics after a contribution is made than in any other fieldan average of thirty-three years, compared with an average of twelve years for prizes in the hard scienceswhich has also been a source of controversy. Finally, some of the recent selections have been criticized for honoring contributions that are too narrowly focused.

The prize has affected both the field of economics itself and the fields impact. It has been argued that the prospect of receiving a Nobel Prize motivates economists to pursue original research ideas. Although there has been no empirical study documenting such an effect, it is consistent with one of the most basic laws in economics that people respond to incentives. The impact that an economist can have on the literature, on economic policy, and on public opinion is substantially enhanced if they can add the title Nobel Laureate after their name. Elite universities lose no opportunity to advertise the laureates on their faculty to attract new faculty members and graduate students. Even Hollywood has been inspired by the prestige of the prize, as reflected in the Oscar-winning movie A Beautiful Mind, about the life of John Nash.

SEE ALSO Economics


Baffes, John, and Athanasios Vamvakidis. Are You Old Enough for a Nobel Prize? Washington, DC: World Bank and International Monetary Fund. (Forthcoming).

Feldman, Burton. 2000. The Nobel Prize: A History of Genius, Controversy, and Prestige. New York: Arcade.

Jones, Benjamin F. 2005. Age and Great Invention. NBER Working Paper 11359. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

Nasar, Sylvia. 1998. A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr., Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 1994. New York: Touchstone. Reissued as A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash. New York: Touchstone, 2001.

Nobel Prize Internet Archive.

Shalev, Baruch A. 2002. One Hundred Years of Nobel Prizes. Los Angeles: Americas Group.

Weinberg, Bruce A., and David W. Galenson. 2005. Creative Careers: The Life Cycles of Nobel Laureates in Economics. NBER Working Paper 11799. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

Athanasios Vamvakidis

Nobel Prize

views updated May 21 2018



The first Nobel Prizes were awarded on 10 December 1901. The first laureate to step down from the podium at the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and receive a diploma from the hand of the crown prince of Sweden was Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845–1923), laureate in physics. He was followed by the laureate in chemistry, Jacobus Henricus van't Hoff (1852–1911); the laureate in medicine, Emil Adolf von Behring (1854–1917); and the laureate in literature, Sully Prudhomme (1839–1907). The names of the laureates had not been announced in advance—a policy that was changed after a few years. In the first years of the Nobel Prize, there was no award for the recipients of the Peace Prize. On the tenth of December, Norway's parliament, the Storting, reached its decision as to who would receive the Peace Prize. The decision was announced the same day, and the new laureates were informed by letter. The first recipients of the Peace Prize were Jean Henri Dunant (1828–1910) and Frédéric Passy (1822–1912).


The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually dis tributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the great est benefit on mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or inven tion within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or med icine; one part to the person who shall have pro duced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction; and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses. The prizes for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiology or medical works by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm; that for literature by the Academy in Stockholm, and that for champions of peace by a ecommittee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting. It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not.


To understand the origin of the prizes, one must consider the life of the chemical magnate Alfred Nobel (1833–1896), who died on 10 December 1896 in San Remo, Italy. After a few days, it was learned that Nobel had left a will at a bank in Stockholm. The provisions of this will sparked great public interest. The executors of the will were Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Liljequist. Sohlman, then only twenty-six years old, had been Nobel's assistant, and Liljequist had worked with some of Nobel's industrial projects. In actuality, it was Sohlman, assisted by a lawyer named Carl Lindhagen (1860–1946), who realized Alfred Nobel's assets and established the Nobel Foundation to administer the capital that would provide the basis for the prizes.

Sohlman's task proved to be an extremely complicated one. The first problem he faced was to determine Alfred Nobel's legal place of residence. Nobel had lived in Sweden for only part of his childhood and a few years during the mid-1860s. However, he had owned a munitions factory at Bofors, Sweden, since 1893. This fact made it possible to transfer Nobel's assets to Sweden and establish the foundation there. Sohlman himself, armed with a revolver, carried out the transport of most of Nobel's financial papers and instruments from Paris to London and then to Stockholm. Finally, the entire legal process surrounding Nobel's will and testament was pursued at the district court in Karlskoga, the court of law that lay closest to the town of Bofors.

Just four months after Nobel's death, the Norwegian Storting accepted the task of selecting Peace Prize laureates and established a committee to begin this work. To select recipients of the other prizes, Nobel had named three academies in Sweden: the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Karolinska Institute, and the Swedish Academy. These organizations were more hesitant, and the negotiations with them took longer. In June 1898 agreements were reached regarding the principal arrangements for realizing the vision set forth in Nobel's will. Each of the three academies appointed members who continued discussing the statutes for the new Nobel Foundation. On 29 June 1900 the statutes were signed into effect by the King of Sweden and Norway, Oscar II (r. 1872–1907). The king, however, was doubtful about the prizes, which he viewed as insufficiently patriotic. The Swedish royal house found it difficult to accept the idea that laureates would be selected without regard to nationality. The awarding of Nobel Prizes in both Norway and Sweden was also a sensitive issue. Due to a strong Norwegian opposition movement, the long-standing union between Sweden and Norway was in decay. For these reasons, the king himself did not participate in the first Nobel ceremony, and had Crown Prince Gustaf represent the royal family.

The prizes are distributed in the order in which they are named in Alfred Nobel's will (see sidebar). For this reason, Röntgen was the first person to receive a Nobel Prize. The statutes adopted in 1900 establish that the funds may also be used in the selection process, as well as for the establishment of Nobel Institutes, the purpose of which was to contribute to the work of evaluating potential prize recipients. In 1905, when the union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved, special regulations were established for the distribution of the peace prize by the Norwegian Storting's Nobel Committee (officially known since 1977 as the Norwegian Nobel Committee).


The Nobel Foundation is not in any way involved in the selection of laureates. The Foundation is a private, independent organization that protects the interests of the committees involved and administers the capital that provides the basis for the prizes. The only official involvement by the government of Sweden is to appoint an auditor. This auditor also serves as chairperson for the Foundation's various auditors. In the same way, the prize-awarding organizations are independent, not only of the government, but also of the Nobel Foundation. This guarantees the objectivity and quality of the decisions made within the various organizations.

The selection of Nobel laureates is a lengthy and complicated process. For each prize, there is a Nobel Committee consisting of five members and a secretary. The committee has the right to appoint additional adjunct members. The standard procedures are the same for all of the scientific prizes. In September, the Nobel Committees on physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine send out nomination forms to around three thousand persons, including previous Nobel laureates, professors at various universities around the world, members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute. Nominations must be received before the last day of January. Normally, the nomination process results in the names of around three hundred candidates in each category. Following this, each committee consults numerous experts throughout the world to evaluate the work of the nominees. From June through August the committee writes its reports, which are submitted to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and to the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute and discussed at two meetings. In the beginning of October a vote is taken and a prize recipient for that committee is selected by simple majority. The decision cannot be appealed. Voting rights for the selection of laureates in physics and chemistry are held by members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (about 350 members). Voting rights for the selection of laureates in physiology or medicine are held by the members of the Karolinska Institute's Nobel Assembly (fifty members). Following the final vote the winners are informed and their names are made public.

The selection procedures for the Literature and Peace Prizes follow the same basic pattern as those for the scientific prizes. The Nobel Committee on Literature may be smaller than the committees for the scientific prizes, and fewer nomination forms are sent out. Nominations for the Literature Prize may be made by the members of the Swedish Academy, as well as members of other similar national academies, previous laureates, professors of literature and linguistics, and the chairpersons of national authors' associations. Generally, around 150 names are received. Through elimination, the list is reduced to fifteen to twenty names, which the committee continues to study and further reduces to a list of five names. Reports on the five candidates are compiled and discussed within the Academy. In October the eighteen members of the Swedish Academy go to their final vote. The winning candidate must receive more than half of the votes.

The Peace Prize differs from the other prizes on one important point: the Nobel committee appointed by the Norwegian Storting not only makes the nominations but also makes the final selection of the prizewinners. The Peace Prize Committee is also relatively small, with five members and a secretary. As with the other prizes, invitations to make nominations are sent out in September to members of parliament and governments around the world; members of international courts of law; university presidents; professors of history, philosophy, sociology, law and theology; directors of peace institutes; previous Peace Prize recipients; and previous members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The resulting list of candidates usually contains about 100 to 150 names. One rule common to all the prizes is that no one may nominate him- or herself.

Today, the scientific prizes and the Peace Prize are often shared. Until 1968 a Nobel Prize could in principle be shared by a large group of persons, if, for example, they had conducted a large scientific research project together. In 1968 the statutes were changed so that a prize cannot be shared by more than three recipients. These recipients may have cooperated or they could have been working on a maximum of two completely different projects. The Peace Prize is often awarded to organizations rather than individuals. The Literature Prize has been shared only four times (in 1904, 1917, 1966, and 1974).


The cash value of the prizes has varied greatly over the years. The 1901 winners received 150,000 Swedish crowns—a very large amount equivalent to about twenty times the annual salary for a university professor at that time. However, the Nobel Foundation was forced by the terms of the Nobel will to be extremely conservative in its investment strategies, and the return achieved on the capital was poor. In addition, the Foundation was not tax-exempt, and was for many years the largest single taxpayer in the city of Stockholm. In 1923 the prize amount reached its lowest level, 114,935 Swedish crowns. The actual value of this amount was less than a third of the original prize amounts. In 1946 the Nobel Foundation was granted tax-exempt status and undertook a thorough reform of its economic administration. In 1953 the Foundation's investment policies were updated so that its capital could be invested more aggressively. In 1991 the Nobel Prizes again reached their original value, in nominal terms six million Swedish crowns each. In 2005 the five Nobel Prizes were worth ten million crowns each.

When the Bank of Sweden celebrated its three-hundredth anniversary in 1968 its leaders decided to make a donation to the Nobel Foundation. The bank also instituted a new Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences selects a recipient according to the same rules for the prizes in physics and chemistry. Since 1969 this prize has been awarded along with the Nobel Prizes. The Bank of Sweden donates the prize amount each year. Following the creation of the prize in economics the Nobel Foundation ruled that no additional prizes could be added to the Nobel roster.


The Nobel Prizes are among the most prestigious honors in the world. In monetary terms they are no longer the largest such prizes but their reputation has grown successively with the list of laureates. There are of course a few names that most people think should have been included on the long list of laureates (783 in 2005), but despite this, the careful selection process has guaranteed the quality of the choices made. The number of women laureates (a total of only thirty-three as of 2005) is far too low and there is an overrepresentation of Scandinavians, whereas laureates from regions other than Europe and North America are underrepresented. Nonetheless, in the history of the prizes, one hopes these disparities should be corrected with time.

The committees have not avoided controversial selections, especially in the cases of the Peace and Literature Prizes. When the journalist and peace activist Carl von Ossietsky (1889–1938) was awarded the 1935 Peace Prize Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) forbade all Germans to accept any Nobel Prize. Despite this fact, German laureates were selected in 1938 and 1939 (Richard Kuhn [1900–1967], chemistry, 1938; Adolf Friechrich Johann Butenandt [1903–1995], chemistry, 1939; and Gerhard Domagk [1895–1964], medicine, 1939). These laureates were allowed to accept their diplomas and medals after the war. According to the statutes, the monetary awards could not be paid out. In the same way, the Russian author Boris Pasternak (1890–1960) was forced by the Soviet government to decline his Literature Prize. The Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi (b. 1945) was not allowed to accept her 1991 Peace Prize and was held in house arrest by her country's government. On a number of occasions, the Literature Prize has been awarded to politically controversial writers, as, for example, in 2005, when it went to the British dramatist Harold Pinter (b. 1930).

In some years certain of the Nobel Prizes have not been awarded. In some cases the respective committee has been unable to agree upon a prize-winner, and postponed its decision until the next year. For example, Albert Einstein (1879–1955) was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922, the same year that Niels Bohr (1885–1962) received the 1922 Physics Prize. On other occasions, war hindered the committee's work. For several years during both World War I and World War II, no Nobel Prizes were granted.

In the early twenty-first century, the awarding of the Nobel Prizes is a national holiday in both Sweden and Norway. Award ceremonies take place in the Stockholm Concert Hall and at the Oslo City Hall. The stately Nobel Banquet is held at the Stockholm City Hall, serves 1,300 guests, and is broadcast on television around the world. In the early years of the prizes, it was a gentlemen's dinner held at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm. The Nobel banquet held in Oslo is somewhat more modest, serving around 250 guests at the Oslo Grand Hotel. There are also sizable public Nobel organizations, such as the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo and the Nobel Museum in Stockholm. The Nobel Foundation also runs its own Web site,, that makes information about the prizes available on the Internet.

See alsoScience; Sweden.


Crawford, Elisabeth. The Beginnings of the Nobel Institution: The Science Prizes, 1901–1915. Cambridge, U.K., New York, and Paris, 1984.

Friedman, Marc Robert. The Politics of Excellence: Behind the Nobel Prize in Science. New York, 2001.

Larsson, Ulf, ed. Cultures of Creativity: The Centennial Exhibition of the Nobel Prize. Canton, Mass., 2001.

Nobel Foundation and W. Odelberg., eds. Nobel: The Man and His Prizes. 3rd rev. and enl. ed. New York, 1972.

Solman, Ragnar. The Legacy of Alfred Nobel: The Story Behind the Nobel Prizes. London, 1983.

Olov Amelin

Nobel Prizes

views updated May 14 2018


NOBEL PRIZES , awarded annually to men and women who have "rendered the greatest service to mankind." Since the inception of the prize in 1899 it has been awarded to the following Jews or people of Jewish descent. (See Table: Jewish Nobel Prize Winners.)

1905Adolph Von Baeyer1981Roald Hoffmann
1906Henri Moissan1982Aaron Klug
1910Otto Wallach1989Sidney Altman
1915Richard Willstaetter1992Rudolph Arthur Marcus
1918Fritz Haber1994George Olah
1943George Charles de Hevesy1996Harold Kroto
1961Melvin Calvin1998Walter Kohn
1962Max Ferdinand Perutz2000Alan Heeger
1972William Howard Stein (jointly with Dr. Stanford Moore)2004Aaron Ciechanover
1979Herbert Brown2004Avram Hershko
1980Paul Berg2004Irwin Rose
1980Walter Gilbert
1910Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse1981Elias Canetti
1927Henri Bergson1987Joseph Brodsky
1958Boris Pasternak1991Nadine Gordimer
1966Shmuel Yosef Agnon2002Imre Kertész
1966Nelly Sachs2004Elfriede Jelinek
1976Saul Bellow2005Harold Pinter
1978Isaac Bashevis Singer
Physiology or Medicine
1908Elie Metchnikoff1972Maurice Gerald Edelman
1908Paul Ehrlich1975David Baltimore
1914Robert Bárány1975Howard David Temin
1922Otto Meyerhof1976Baruch Samuel Blumberg
1930Karl Landsteiner1977Rosalyn Sussman Yalow
1931Otto Warburg1978Daniel Nathans
1936Otto Loewi1980Baruj Benacceraf
1944Joseph Erlanger1984Cesar Milstein
1944Herbert Spencer Gasser1985Michael Stuart Brown
1945Ernst Boris Chain1985Joseph Leonard Goldstein
1946Herman Joseph Muller1986Stanley Cohen
1950Tadeus Reichstein1986Rita Levi-Montalcini
1952Selman Abraham Waksman1988Gertrude B. Elion
1953Hans Krebs1989Harold Eliot Varmus
1953Fritz Albert Lipmann1992Edmond Fischer
1958Joshua Lederberg1994Alfred Gilman
1959Arthur Kornberg1994Martin Rodbell
1964Konrad Bloch1997Stanley Prusiner
1965François Jacob1998Robert Furchgott
1965Andre Lwoff2000Paul Greengard
1967George Wald2000Eric Kandel
1968Marshall W. Nirenberg2002Sydney Brenner
1969Salvador Luria2002H. Robert Horvitz
1970Julius Axelrod2004Richard Axel
1970Sir Bernard Katz
1907Albert Abraham Michelson1978Peter Leonidovitch Kapitza
1908Gabriel Lippmann1978Arno Penzias
1921Albert Einstein1979Sheldon Glashow
1922Niels Bohr1979Steven Weinberg
1925James Franck1988Leon Lederman
1925Gustav Hertz1988Melvin Schwartz
1943Otto Stern1988Jack Steinberger
1944Isidor Isaac Rabi1990Jerome Isaac Friedman
1952Felix Bloch1992George Charpak
1954Max Born1995Martin L. Perl
1958Igor Tamm1995Frederick Reines
1959Emilio Segrè1996David Lee
1960Donald A. Glaser1996Douglas Osheroff
1961Robert Hofstadter1997Claude Cohen-Tannoudji
1962Lev Davidovich Landau2000Zhores Alferov
1965Richard Phillips Feynman2003Vitaly Ginzburg
1965Julian Schwinger2003Alexei Abrikosov
1969Murray Gell-Mann2004David Gross
1971Dennis Gabor2004H. David Politzer
1973Brian David Josephson (jointly with Ivan Giaver and Leon Esoki)2005Roy Glauber
1975Benjamin R. Mottelson (jointly with Aage Bohr)
World Peace
1911Alfred Fried1986Elie Wiesel
1911Tobias Michael Carel Asser1994Yiẓhak Rabin
1968René Cassin1994Shimon Peres
1973Henry Alfred Kissinger1995Joseph Rotblat
1978Menaḥem Begin
1970Paul Anthony Samuelson1993Robert Fogel
1971Simon Kuznetz1994John Harsanyi
1972Kenneth Joseph Arrow1994Reinhard Selten
1975Leonid Kantorovich1997Robert Merton
1978Herbert Alexander Simon1997Myron Scholes
1980Lawrence Klein2001George Akerlof
1985Franco Modigliani2001Joseph Stiglitz
1987Robert M. Solow2002Daniel Kahneman
1990Harry M. Markowitz2005Robert Aumann
1992Gary S. Becker


Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

views updated May 21 2018

Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine The Nobel Prizes were established in 1901 by the Nobel Foundation, which was endowed by the Swedish industrial chemist and philanthropist, Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833–96).

Alfred was born in Stockholm, the son of an industrialist and inventor Immanuel Nobel, who used explosives extensively in his construction business. After schooling and private tutors in Stockholm and St Petersburg, where his father moved after a business failure, Alfred travelled extensively in Western Europe, learning languages and attending chemistry lectures and demonstrations. Throughout his life he was to retain a special fondness for English literature and poetry. He returned to St Petersburg just before the Crimean War (1853–56), and worked in the family's munitions company, manufacturing naval mines that prevented the British Navy from entering St Petersburg. Immanuel went bankrupt in 1859, and the family returned to Sweden. During the next few years father and son both worked on the newly-discovered explosives, gun cotton and nitroglycerin. A tragedy hit the family in 1864 when their nitroglycerine factory blew up, killing several people, including Alfred's younger brother. From that time on, Alfred Nobel tried to devise a safer way to deal with nitroglycerine, and in 1867 patented ‘dynamite’, a more stable form of the chemical. Further developments and inventions, including synthetic rubber and artificial silk, contributed to Alfred Nobel's personal wealth, and by the time of his death he held over 350 patents.

After his death his Will of November 27, 1895 specified that the bulk of his estate should be deposited in a fund, the interest from which should be divided into five parts to be used for five annual Prizes, in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace. A close friend, Countess Bertha von Suttner, had become increasingly critical of the late nineteenth-century arms race, and correspondingly active in the peace movement, and she may well have influenced Nobel's decision to include in his Will an award to individuals or organizations who promoted peace. In 1905 Bertha was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Perhaps not surprisingly, several of Nobel's relatives contested the Will.

One of the five shares was to be awarded to the person ‘who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of Physiology or Medicine’. The Royal Caroline Medico-Surgical Institute in Stockholm, today the Karolinska Institute, was entrusted with the task of selecting the winners of the award. Why did Nobel select this field for attention? During much of his life, he had suffered from poor health, complaining of indigestion, headaches, and the occasional bout of depression. He was known to be interested in medical science and was absolutely fascinated when the medical use of nitroglycerine became well known for relieving pain in angina pectoris. In 1890 his own doctors suggested its use, which prompted Nobel to write to a friend ‘isn't it the irony of ironies that I have been prescribed N/G 1 [nitroglycerine], to be taken internally.’

The awards became newsworthy almost immediately — their monetary value was substantially more than any other prize, and even at the end of the twentieth century, when other sources of spectacular awards are more common, a Nobel Prize carries unique cachet and prestige. Some of the greatest names in twentieth century medical science have received awards. Conversely, other great names have not. The restriction that the award can be shared by a maximum of three individuals in any one year, and cannot be awarded posthumously, has helped to fuel some bitter controversies over the apportioning of credit and priority for discoveries.

E. M. Tansey


Fox, D. M., Meldrum, M., Rezak, I. (ed) (1990). Nobel Laureates in Medicine or Physiology: a biographical dictionary. Garland Publishing, New York.
Sohlman, R. (1983). The legacy of Alfred Nobel. The Bodley Head Ltd, London.
Zuckerman, H. (1977). Scientific elite: Nobel laureates in the United States. The Free Press, New York.

See also the web site of the Nobel Foundation at:

Nobel Peace Prize

views updated May 29 2018

Nobel Peace Prize



1 Prize awarded to organization rather than to individual(s)

3 Northern Ireland


Menachem Begin (Israel), Anwar Sadat (Egypt)


Mother Terasa of Calcutta (Macedonia-India)


Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (Argentinia)


Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees1


Alva Myrdal (Swedish), Alfonso Robles (Mexico)


Lech Walesa (Poland)


Archbishop Desmond Tutu (South Africa)


International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War1


Elie Wiesel (US)


Oscar Arias Sánchez (Costa Rica)


United Nations peacekeeping forces1


Dalai Lama (Tibet)


Mikhail Gorbachev (Soviet Union)


Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma)


Rigoberta Menchú (Guatemala)


Frederik W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela (South Africa)


Yasser Arafat (Palestine), Shimon Peres & Yitzhak Rabin (Israel)


Joseph Rotblat (UK)


Bishop Belo & José Ramos Horta (East Timor)


International Campaign to Ban Landmines & Jody Williams (USA)


John Hume and David Trimble (UK)3


Médecins Sans Frontières1


Kim Dae Jung (South Korea)


United Nations and Kofi Annan


Jimmy Carter (US)


Shirin Ebadi (Iran)

Nobel Prize

views updated May 23 2018

No·bel Prize / ˈnōbel/ • n. any of six international prizes awarded annually for outstanding work in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, economics (since 1969), and the promotion of peace. The Nobel Prizes, first awarded in 1901, were established by the will of Alfred Nobel and are traditionally awarded on December 10, the anniversary of his death. The awards are decided by boards of deputies appointed by Swedish learned societies and, in the case of the peace prize, by the Norwegian Parliament.DERIVATIVES: No·bel Prize win·ner n.

Nobel Prizes

views updated May 29 2018

Nobel Prizes Awards given each year for outstanding contributions in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, economics, and world peace. Established in 1901 by the will of Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel, the prizes are awarded annually on December 10. Committees based in Sweden and Norway select the winners.

Nobel Prize

views updated May 29 2018

Nobel Prize any of six international prizes awarded annually for outstanding work in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, economics, and the promotion of peace. The Nobel Prizes, first awarded in 1901, were established by the will of the Swedish chemist and engineer Alfred Nobel (1833–96), who made a large fortune from his invention of dynamite (1866), gelignite, and other high explosives. The prizes are traditionally awarded on 10 December, the anniversary of his death. The awards are decided by members of Swedish learned societies or, in the case of the peace prize, the Norwegian Parliament.

Nobel Prizes

views updated May 23 2018


NOBEL PRIZES. SeePrizes and Awards .

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