Simon Smith Kuznets Biography - Nobel Prize Winner (1971)


Simon Smith Kuznets (April 30, 1901 – July 8/9, 1985) was an economist at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who won the 1971 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel "for his empirically founded interpretation of economic growth which has led to new and deepened insight into the economic and social structure and process of development".

He was born in Kharkov, Ukraine but moved to the United States in 1922 and was educated at Columbia University and received his B.Sc. in 1923, M.A. in 1924, and Ph.D. in 1926.

From 1925 to 1926, Kuznets spent time studying economic patterns in prices as the Research Fellow at the Social Science Research Council. It was this work that led to his book Secular Movements in Production and Prices, published in 1930.

From 1931 until 1936, Kuznets was a part-time professor at the University of Pennsylvania and as professor of Economics and Statistics from 1936 until 1954. In 1954, Kuznets moved to Johns Hopkins University, where he was Professor of Political Economy until 1960. From 1960 until his retirement in 1971, Kuznets taught at Harvard.

Simon Kuznets died on July 8, 1985, at the age of 84.

His work and its impact on Economics
Kuznets is credited with revolutionising econometrics, and this work is credited with fueling the Keynesian Revolution. His most important book is National Income and Its Composition, 1919–1938. Published in 1941, it is one of the most historically significant works on Gross National Product. His work on the business cycle and disequilibrium aspects of economic growth helped launch development economics. He also studied inequality over time, and his results formed the Kuznets Curve.

There are two developments at Kuznets time: the emergence of econometrics and the Keynesian Revolution, both of which found in Kuznets's data an important resource for their advancement. Kuznets, however, was neither a Keynesian nor an econometrician - he took his cues from Mitchell's Institutionalism - as exemplified in his 1930 methodological pieces. Whereas Mitchell devoted his life to the study of business cycles, Kuznets turned to other fluctuations –seasonal ones and secular movements –then to national income estimation, and later to studies of economic growth. As a result, his initial work was on the empirical analysis of business cycles (1930) - a 15-20 year cycle he identified was later attached to his name, the "Kuznets Cycle".

Kuznets's life work was the collection and organization of the national income accounts of the United States (1934, 1941, and 1946). Kuznets was interested in statistical fact finding focusing specifically on seasonal fluctuations, secular movements, national income estimation, and economic growth. He computed national income back to 1869. He broke it down by industry, by final product, and by use. He also measured the distribution of income between rich and poor. Although Kuznets was not the first economist to try this, his work was so comprehensive and meticulous that it set the standard in the field.

Kuznets helped the U.S. Department of Commerce to standardize the measurement of GNP. In the late forties, however, he broke with the Commerce Department over its refusal to use GNP as a measure of economic well-being.

Kuznets was also one of the earliest workers on development economics, in particular collecting and analyzing the empirical characteristics of developing countries (1965, 1966, 1971, and 1979). His major thesis, which argued that underdeveloped countries of today possess characteristics different from those that industrialized countries faced before they developed, helped put an end to the simplistic view that all countries went through the same "linear stages" in their history and launched the separate field of development economics - which now focused on the analysis of modern underdeveloped countries' distinct experiences.

Among his several discoveries which sparked important theoretical research programs was his discovery of the inverted U-shaped relation between income inequality and economic growth (1955, 1963). In poor countries, economic growth increased the income disparity between rich and poor people. In wealthier countries, economic growth narrowed the difference. He also discovered the patterns in savings-income behavior which launched the Life-Cycle-Permanent-Income Hypothesis of Modigliani and Friedman.

Akerlof, George A.
Allais, Maurice
Arrow, Kenneth J.
Aumann, Robert J.
Becker, Gary S.
Buchanan, James M., Jr.
Coase, Ronald H.
Debreu, Gerard
Engle, Robert F.
Fogel, Robert W.
Friedman, Milton
Frisch, Ragnar
Granger, Clive W. J.
Haavelmo, Trygve
Harsanyi, John C.
Heckman, James J.
Hayek, Friedrich August Von
Hicks, Sir John R.
Kahneman, Daniel
Kantorovich, Leonid Vitaliyevich
Klein, Lawrence R.
Koopmans, Tjalling C.
Kuznets, Simon
Kydland, Finn E.
Leontief, Wassily
Lewis, Sir Arthur
Lucas, Robert
Markowitz, Harry M.
McFadden, Daniel L.
Meade, James E.
Merton, Robert C.
Miller, Merton M.
Mirrlees, James A.
Modigliani, Franco
Mundell, Robert A.
Myrdal, Gunnar
Nash, John F.
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Ohlin, Bertil
Prescott, Edward C.
Samuelson, Paul A.
Schelling, Thomas C.
Scholes, Myron S.
Schultz, Theodore W.
Selten, Reinhard
Sen, Amartya
Sharpe, William F.
Simon, Herbert A.
Smith, Vernon L.
Solow, Robert M.
Spence, A. Michael
Stigler, George J.
Stiglitz, Joseph E.
Stone, Sir Richard
Tinbergen, Jan
Tobin, James
Vickrey, William

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