The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Schelling, Thomas C. (Born 1921)

  • Timur Kuran
Reference work entry


Thomas Schelling has contributed path-breaking works to the study of coordination problems, group behaviour, and self-control. Early in his career, he framed the Cold War as a game in which parties have a mutual interest in coordinating their actions through a ‘focal point’. Later he explained how, in the absence of racism, racial segregation may be triggered by a ‘tipping’ process through which residential homogenization feeds on itself. His latest major insight has been that addictions stem from an inability to reconcile conflicting inner drives.


Addiction Critical mass Focal point Game theory Multiple equilibria Network models Prisoner’s dilemma Residential segregation Schelling, T. C. Self-control Subgame perfection Tipping 

JEL Classifications

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ayson, R. 2004. Thomas Schelling and the nuclear age. London: Frank Cass.Google Scholar
  2. Swedberg, R. 1990. Thomas C. Schelling. In Economics and sociology. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Zeckhauser, R. 1989. Distinguished fellow: Reflections on Thomas Schelling. Journal of Economic Perspectives 3(2): 153–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timur Kuran
    • 1
  1. 1.