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High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Jan Tinbergen, Economist and Visionary
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Jan Tinbergen, Economist and Visionary

(Jan Berkouwer) The Low Countries - 1995, № 3, pp. 76-81

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Professor Jan Tinbergen, who was bom in 1903 and died on 9 June 1994, was in some respects an extraordinary man and in others quite the reverse. His ideas and theories bore witness to exceptional gifts and very high moral standards. In his daily life he was modest, friendly and helpful; in this respect he was extraordinary in his ordinariness. In 1969 Tinbergen was awarded the first-ever Nobel Prize for Economics for his work, jointly with the Norwegian Ragnar Frisch; this in itself indicates how great were his contributions in his own field. He received more than fifteen honorary doctorates and other honours, of which it may be said that he valued them only as expressions of esteem for his work and his ideas, not in any sense for his person. Tinbergen' s choice of subjects to work on was always govemed by the desire to find solutions to concrete, pressing social problems. Chief among these were, in chronological order: in the 1930s, a practicable economic policy; after the Second World War, the fight against poverty, including in the Third World, and redistribution of income, particularly wïthin a state; and, more recently, the necessity of establishing a world government. Tinbergen' s scientific merits were enormous. Much of his pioneering work in the field of econometrics now forms part of the professional knowledge of almost every modem economist.

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