updated 10/10/2004 6:16:50 PM ET 2004-10-10T22:16:50

Americans have dominated the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences five years running, and it may not surprise Nobel watchers if the trend continues.

Even the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which will reveal this year’s prizewinner on Monday, has said the United States is a driving force, in part because of the money spent for research.

Past awards have recognized research on topics ranging from poverty and famine to how multinational corporations reap profits, and theories on how people choose jobs and the welfare losses caused by environmental catastrophes.

While the nominees aren’t publicly revealed until 50 years after the fact, some names bandied about have included economists Elhanan Helpman of Harvard and Gene Grossman and Paul Krugman of Princeton University.

Jean Tirole, scientific director of the Institut d’Economie Industrielle, University of Social Sciences, in Toulouse, is another possibility, primarily for his work in the theory of industrial organization, corporate finance, procurement and regulation, game theory, and financial sector regulation.

Last year’s winners were American Robert F. Engle and Briton Clive W.J. Granger for developing statistical tools that improved the forecasting of rates of economic growth, interest rates and stock prices.

Engle was the fourth consecutive American to receive the economics award since 2000.

The economics prize, worth $1.3 million this year, is the only award not established in the will of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. The medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace prizes were first awarded in 1901, while the economics prize was set up separately by the Swedish central bank in 1968.

This year’s Nobel Prize announcements began Oct. 4 with the prize in physiology or medicine going to Americans Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck for their work on the sense of smell. On Tuesday, Americans David J. Gross, H. David Politzer and Frank Wilczek won the physics prize for their explanation of the force that binds particles inside the atomic nucleus.

The chemistry prize was awarded Wednesday to Israelis Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko and American Irwin Rose for their work in discovering a process that lets cells destroy unwanted proteins. On Thursday, Austrian feminist writer Elfriede Jelinek won the Nobel Prize in literature.

Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for her work as leader of the Green Belt Movement, which has sought to empower women, better the environment and fight corruption in Africa for almost 30 years.

The Nobel prizes are presented Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of their founder. The peace prize is awarded in Oslo, and the other Nobel prizes are presented in the Swedish capital, Stockholm.

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