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Joel Mokyr receives lifetime achievement award in economics

photo of Joel Mokyr

EVANSTON, Ill. - Joel Mokyr, the Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor of economics and history in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, has been named a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association (AEA).

The Distinguished Fellow awards annually recognize the lifetime research contributions of up to four distinguished economists.

Mokyr was recognized for his invaluable contributions to our understanding of economic growth and technological change. His work focuses on the economic history of Europe, primarily in the period 1750 to 1914. He is concerned with understanding the economic and intellectual roots of technological progress and the growth of useful knowledge in European societies. His research also deals with the impact that industrialization and economic progress have had on economic welfare.

“I am elated and deeply moved by this recognition, which honors the entire field of economic history,” Mokyr said. “The department of economics at Northwestern has always supported economic history as an essential part of an economics training at both the undergraduate and graduate level. The honor bestowed upon me affirms the wisdom of that policy.”

Mokyr is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Dutch Royal Society, the Accademia dei Lincei and the British Academy. He is also a fellow of the Econometric Society and the Cliometric Society. He has been the president of the Economic History Association and a co-editor of the Journal of Economic History.

Mokyr is on several editorial boards of peer-reviewed journals and editor-in-chief of the Princeton University Press book series on Economic History of the Western World and was the editor-in-chief of the Oxford University Press Encyclopedia of Economic History (five volumes).

He was the 2006 winner of the biennial Heineken Prize for History awarded by the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. In 2015, Mokyr was awarded the prestigious International Balzan Prize for his groundbreaking work on the economic history of Europe and roots of technological change. He is the only economic historian to be awarded this prize in more than 20 years. He is the author of 10 books; the latest is “A Culture of Growth: Origins of the Modern Economy" (Princeton University Press, 2016).

Since 1965, past presidents of the AEA are recognized as Distinguished Fellows, and up to four additional individuals may be elected for the award in one calendar year. Distinguished Fellows are selected by the AEA nominating committee and voting members of the executive committee, sitting together as an electoral college. 

In addition to Mokyr, the 2018 recipients of the Distinguished Fellow award are Henry Aaron, Brookings Institute; Francine Blau, Cornell University; and Richard Posner, University of Chicago. They will be honored at the AEA Annual Meeting in Atlanta in January.

In previous years, Northwestern economists to receive the honor include Charles Manski, the Board of Trustees Professor of Economics (2017); Robert J. Gordon, the Stanley G. Harris Professor in the Social Sciences (2014); and the late Dale T. Mortensen, the Board of Trustees Professor of Economics (2008) and Nobel laureate. 

The AEA encourages economic research, issues publications on economic subjects and encourages perfect freedom of economic discussion. With more than 18,000 members, the association publishes the American Economic Review, Journal of Economic Literature, Journal of Economic Perspectives and American Economic Journals: Applied Economics, Economic Policy, Macroeconomics and Microeconomics. 

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