ST. GEORGE — This week Lars Hansen was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science. He teaches at the University of Chicago, but Lars Hansen remains tied to Utah. Not only did he graduate from the University of Utah, where his father was a professor, but his mother lives in St. George. Anna Hansen, 93, took up residence here in the desert over 30 years ago with her late husband.
She was surprised when her son called to inform her of his achievement, Anna Hansen said, and that she still isn’t sure exactly how to feel about such an award. But, she said, she feels immensely proud of her son.
However, Anna Hansen said she wanted to stress that she is proud of all of her sons and that this award probably won’t change anything for her. Lars Hansen is still just her son.
She never would have thought that one day her son would be a Nobel Prize winner, Anna Hansen said. “Because I grew up in a small town I never thought of it,” she said.
For Anna Hansen, this award doesn’t define her son and she focuses on her relationship with her son instead of on his achievements.
“I don’t think anything about the award,” Anna Hansen said, “just as long as I can still communicate with him.”
Lars Hansen was just a normal boy growing up in Ann Arbor, Mich., concerned with basketball and friends, his mother said. However, she remembers him as a very inquisitive child.
“He kept us on our toes always asking questions,” she said. “He always wanted to know why and the pros and cons of things.”
Lars Hansen pulls away from the typical view of Nobel Prize winners being prodigious children bound for greatness. Anna Hansen said her son didn’t exhibit these signs and in fact he didn’t express an interest in economics until he was an undergraduate at the University of Utah. She said she found his interest in economics surprising because she had little interest in the subject herself.
Anna Hansen said that her son and her family were normal. But, at the end of the day, this typical family produced one of the world’s most influential economists.
Lars Hansen, 60, is one of three American professors who won the Nobel Prize for economics on Oct. 14. The other recipients of the award are Eugene, 74, who also teaches at the University of Chicago, and Robert Shiller, 67, a professor at Yale University. Their work focuses on answering the question of how the prices of bonds, stocks and houses are affected over time.
Hansen’s work, along with his fellow Nobelists, has influenced economists and investors the world over.
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