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The EUROPEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION (EEA) is an international scientific body, with membership open to all persons involved or interested in economics. Individual membership of the EEA includes access to the Journal of the Economic Association (JEEA). Members can submit papers to JEEA for no fee. Members also have the right to submit a paper to the EEA annual congress and attend the event. 

 

In Memoriam

On Friday, August 28, 2020 – on the last day of the EEA Congress – the Swedish economist Assar Lindbeck passed away. He was EEA’s 6th President, in 1991, and he was a major contributor to economic research as well as to public policy debate. He will be sorely missed.

Assar Lindbeck was a man of multiple talents; not only did he play the clarinet and the piano as well as compose classical music, but he also painted. His last exhibition took place only months before his ninetieth birthday. Beginning at an early age, he was deeply engaged in societal debate and politics. Economics became his main specialization, despite tempting opportunities to pursue a career both in music and in politics. (Painting was a hobby; he was self-taught.)

His contributions to economic research almost always had a strong policy orientation. They tended to focus on challenges particularly relevant to European economies, such as his work on labor unions and insider-outsider analysis. His publications – comprising journal articles, books, chapters in edited volumes, and public writings – appear uncountable; notable recent journal articles include a 2018 paper in the Journal of Political Economy and a piece forthcoming in the European Economic Review.

Assar Lindbeck was also a major institution builder. After joining the Institute for International Economic Studies at Stockholm University as its Director in 1971, he became its key architect and built up an institution that was to become a leading research center in Europe. He promoted the careers of young researchers, in large part by adopting a non-hierarchical work structure where research was judged by its inherent quality and not by the seniority of the researcher. Long before it became commonplace at European institutions, he considered publications in leading international journals as a yardstick. He remained the Director of the IIES until 1995, when he retired formally. He did keep an office kept coming to work until only a few months ago.

Assar Lindbeck was also the main architect behind the first and only-ever addition to the Nobel Prize suite: the Sverige’s Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in honor of Alfred Nobel. He was a member of the prize committee from its beginning in 1969 and until 1994; he served as its chair between 1981 and 1994. The Prize has established itself as the leading international prize in economics worldwide. Four of the past presidents of the EEA – Reinhard Selten (president in 1997; award in 1994), James Mirrlees (2000; 1996), Jean Tirole (2001; 2014), and Christopher Pissarides (2011; 2010) – were recipients of the award.

Assar Lindbeck’s engagement in policy debates in Sweden was fearless and constantly ongoing, but two specific efforts stand out. First, he fought an intense battle to stop the Social Democratic proposal to “socialize” all private firms via so-called employee-owned funds (“löntagarfonder”); in so doing, he also left the party, where he had been a long-time member. The party finally did withdraw their proposal. Second, in 1992, and following the economic crisis in Sweden in the early 1990s, he was appointed to lead the so-called Lindbeck Commission, which in only a few months’ time produced a thick report and 113 concrete recommendations for fundamental changes to the Swedish economic and political system. Remarkably, especially since many of the report’s suggestions were quite bold, most of the recommended policy changes were adopted. A notable exception was the proposal to remove the regulation of apartment rents. With a wit characteristic of many of his public statements, he once remarked: “Rent control is, next to bombing, the most effective way to destroy a city." Until the end of his life, Assar kept arguing for its abandonment, to no avail.

His choice of staying in academia was, in large part, motivated by the privilege he felt it gave him to freely express his views. These views were often controversial, especially at first, but they almost always ended up being persuasive enough so as to change the consensus and, in a large number of cases, lead to fundamental changes in policy in Sweden. To us, Assar has been a life-long role model. His modesty stood out; he was a very uncomfortable recipient of praise. He refused to wear his medals, even on the most formal of occasions – he merely kept his large medal collection stashed away in a drawer. Assar also had enormous integrity and a strong conviction that a combination of academic excellence and genuine care for society is a meaningful way to live one’s life. Most of all, however, we remember Assar as a fundamentally warm and caring person who has meant a lot to many, many people around him.

John Hassler and Per Krusell

 

NEWS and EVENTS

The European Job Market for Economists (EJM) website is launched. Please visit here for all information on the EJM Virtual 2020.

Message on COVID 19 to EEA members and supporters here.

 

 

JEEA NEWS

JEEA 18:4 is now downloadable on the OUP JEEA website, which can be accessed through your EEA membership profile page.  For futher details, please visit here.

All JEEA forthcoming papers are now available on the EEA server. To access these, please log in at the member section, click on Access JEEA Papers and then View forthcoming papers. To view abstracts of these papers, please visit here.

 

Last update September 03, 2020
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