David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens have been awarded this year’s Nobel prize for economics.
The trio shared the prize for their use of “natural experiments” to understand how economic policy and other events connect.
Natural experiments use real-life situations to work out the impact of government decisions.
Canadian-born Card, for example, looked at the impact of minimum wage increases on employment in US state New Jersey.
His findings prompted researchers to review their opinion that such increases should always lead to falls in employment.
“Natural experiments are everywhere,” said Eva Mörk, a member of the prize committee for the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
David Card, from the University of California, won for his analysis of labour markets and economics.
Israeli-American Joshua Angrist from MIT and Guido Imbens, a Dutch academic at Stanford University, share the award “for their methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships”.
The winners share the sum of 10 million Swedish crowns (£839,000), with Card receiving half of the award.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Imbens said he was “absolutely thrilled to hear the news, in particular… hearing that I got to share this with Joshua Angrist and David Card who are both very good friends of mine”.
He added that Mr Angrist had been the best man at his wedding. “I’m just thrilled to share the prize with both him and David.”