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Kenneth Arrow


Kenneth Arrow was a renowned American economist and Nobel laureate who significantly contributed to modern economic theories. He is best known for his groundbreaking work in the fields of general equilibrium theory, welfare economics, and social choice theory. Notably, his pivotal “Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem” demonstrated the inherent challenges of designing a voting system that fairly satisfies the diverse preferences of all individuals involved.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Kenneth Arrow” is: /ˈkɛnɪθ ˈærəʊ/Keh-nith A-roh

Key Takeaways

  1. Kenneth Arrow was an American economist and Nobel laureate, best known for his groundbreaking work in the fields of welfare economics, social choice theory, and general equilibrium analysis.
  2. Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem, a significant contribution to social choice theory, demonstrates the impossibility of creating a perfect voting system that can accurately and fairly aggregate individual preferences into a collective decision.
  3. Among his other notable achievements, Arrow co-developed the concept of endogenous growth and played a key role in the development of health economics by co-authoring the seminal paper on the principal-agent problem in healthcare.


Kenneth Arrow is an important figure in the fields of business and finance due to his groundbreaking contributions to economic theory. As a Nobel Prize-winning economist, Arrow’s work has had a profound impact on understanding economic systems and how they function. His primary contributions include the development of the “impossibility theorem,” which highlights the inherent limitations in designing a perfectly fair voting system, and his breakthrough research in the areas of general equilibrium theory and welfare economics. Furthermore, Arrow’s pioneering efforts in information economics and risk analysis have also significantly influenced the way businesses evaluate investment decisions, especially in uncertain environments. Overall, Kenneth Arrow’s work has laid the intellectual foundation for policy makers, academics, and practitioners to better understand economic systems and optimize financial decision-making.


Kenneth Arrow was a renowned American economist who made significant contributions to the field of economics through his groundbreaking work in general equilibrium theory, welfare economics, social choice theory, and risk-bearing. His influential research and theories have a far-reaching impact on various domains of finance and business. The purpose of Arrow’s work was to provide a deeper understanding of the underlying market mechanisms, resource allocation processes, and decision-making principles that drive the overall functioning of an economy. By bringing a more structured and formal approach to these aspects, Arrow’s ideas laid the foundation for modern economic thought, making it easier for businesses and financial institutions to comprehend and adapt to the economic landscape. One of Arrow’s most notable achievements is the development of the concept of “Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem,” which emerged from his work in social choice theory. This theorem asserts that it is impossible to find a perfect voting system that consistently meets a certain set of criteria. It highlights the complexities in decision-making and helps financial institutions recognize the need to reach a consensus for better resource allocation. In addition, Arrow’s research on risk-bearing and insurance markets set the stage for understanding the role of incomplete information in financial markets, which is essential for businesses and investors to make informed decisions. Overall, Kenneth Arrow’s work in economics allows finance and business professionals to navigate the intricacies of markets, pricing, and decision-making, enabling them to attain economic efficiency and socially desirable outcomes.


Kenneth Arrow was a renowned American economist who contributed significantly to various fields of economics. While Arrow himself isn’t a “business/finance term,” many of his concepts have real-world applications in business and finance. Here are three examples: 1. Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem: Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem, also known as Arrow’s Paradox, states that it is impossible to design a voting system that can satisfy a specific set of fairness criteria. This theorem has broad implications for decision making in various settings, including corporate governance. For instance, consider the situation where shareholders have to vote on multiple proposals at a company’s annual general meeting. Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem suggests that there is no perfect method to find a consensus based on each shareholder’s individual preferences without encountering potential unfairness or conflicts. 2. General Equilibrium Theory: The General Equilibrium Theory, which Arrow developed alongside Gérard Debreu, seeks to explain how supply and demand interact in a complex economy with multiple markets. This theory is essential for understanding the functioning of financial markets and the interdependence between different sectors. Real-world application of this theory can be seen in macroeconomic policies and central bank strategies, where the objective is to maintain economic stability and ensure balanced growth across different markets. 3. Arrow’s Information Paradox: Another significant contribution by Kenneth Arrow is his Information Paradox, which pertains to the challenges involved in valuing and promoting innovation. It highlights that, in some cases, it can be hard for innovators to sell their ideas to potential buyers without disclosing essential information that risks being copied. This paradox is evident in real-world situations such as patent disputes, the need for non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), and the protection of trade secrets in various industries. Companies often have to strike a delicate balance between promoting their innovation and protecting their intellectual property.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Who is Kenneth Arrow?
Kenneth Arrow was an American economist, mathematician, and philosopher, who was one of the most prominent figures in economic theory. Born in 1921 and having passed away in 2017, Arrow made significant contributions to various fields, including social choice theory, general equilibrium theory, risk-bearing theory, and information economics.
What is Kenneth Arrow best known for?
Arrow is best known for his ground-breaking work in social choice theory, particularly his development of the “Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem.” This theorem states that no voting system can perfectly satisfy specific criteria of fairness and rationality when three or more alternatives are being ranked.
What awards did Kenneth Arrow receive for his work in economics?
Arrow was the recipient of the 1972 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, which he shared with Sir John Hicks for their pioneering contributions to general equilibrium theory and welfare theory. Arrow was the youngest winner of the economics Nobel at age 51. Additionally, he was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2004.
How did Kenneth Arrow contribute to general equilibrium theory?
Arrow, along with French economist Gérard Debreu, developed the “Arrow-Debreu model” of general equilibrium. This model establishes the conditions under which a competitive market will achieve an efficient allocation of resources. Their work built upon previous models, helping to create a more complete understanding of the functioning of markets and economies.
How does Kenneth Arrow’s work relate to risk and uncertainty?
Arrow made significant contributions to the understanding of risk and uncertainty within economics. His work on risk-bearing theory showed that financial markets could distribute risk efficiently among various economic agents. Among his findings was the “Arrow-Pratt Measure of Risk Aversion,” which quantifies the level of risk aversion an agent displays in a particular decision-making situation.
What is Arrow’s Information Paradox, and how did it contribute to the study of information economics?
Arrow’s Information Paradox refers to the idea that information possesses a unique quality that makes it challenging to assign value in a market setting. The paradox arises because individuals may be reluctant to purchase information without knowing its value beforehand. However, once they know the value, they no longer need to purchase it. Arrow’s work in information economics helped to pave the way for further research on how information asymmetry and uncertainty affect economic decision-making.
Where can I learn more about Kenneth Arrow’s work and theories?
To get a deeper understanding of Arrow’s work, you can read some of his published books and articles, such as “Social Choice and Individual Values,” “General Competitive Analysis,” and “Essays in the Theory of Risk-Bearing.” Additionally, various online resources and textbooks on economic theory can provide valuable insight into Arrow’s contributions to the field of economics.

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