Kenneth J. Arrow, one of the most brilliant economic minds of the 20th century and, at 51, the youngest economist ever to win a Nobel, died on Tuesday at his home in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 95.
His son David confirmed the death.
Paul A. Samuelson, the first American to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, called Professor Arrow the most important theorist of the 20th century in economics. When Professor Arrow received the award in 1972, Professor Samuelson wrote, The economics of insurance, medical care, prescription drug testing to say nothing of bingo and the stock market will never be the same after Arrow.
Professor Arrow a member of an extended family of distinguished economists, including Professor Samuelson and Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary and adviser to President Barack Obama generated work that was technically forbidding even to mathematically oriented colleagues.
But over the decades, economists have learned to apply his ideas to the modern design of insurance products, financial securities, employment contracts and much more.