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Ex-Wife Has Dibs On Half Of Nobel Prize

Sat., Oct. 21, 1995

Rational expectations, indeed.

Robert E. Lucas, winner of the Nobel in economics for his work on the theory of “rational expectations,” has to split the $1 million prize with his ex-wife, who seven years ago had her divorce lawyer insert a clause to cover just such a possibility.

The clause in the couple’s property settlement reads: “Wife shall receive 50 percent of any Nobel Prize.”

Lucas, a 58-year-old University of Chicago economist, said he would gladly share his windfall. He is to receive the prize on Dec. 10 in Stockholm.

“A deal is a deal,” he said. “It’s hard to be unpleasant after winning a prize like that.”

Born in Yakima in 1937, Lucas did his groundbreaking work two decades ago. It is now a fundamental part of economic theory.

Rita C. Lucas had more than just foresight; she had luck. Under the property settlement, if her ex-husband had won the Nobel after Oct. 31, 1995, he would have kept the whole thing. Rita Lucas, 55, would have gotten nothing.

As it turned out, Lucas was awarded the prize on Oct. 10.

Rita Lucas’ request for the Nobel clause wasn’t entirely fanciful. Eight University of Chicago professors have won the Nobel in economics, and Lucas was the fifth in the last six years.

Reached in Chicago on Friday, she declined to discuss her good fortune.

Lucas won for demonstrating how people’s fears and expectations can frustrate policymakers’ efforts to fine-tune the economy. For instance, attempts to regulate unemployment and investment through the money supply often are undermined by the way people adjust spending decisions.


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