The 2015 IZA Prize in Labor Economics goes to Czech-born economist Jan Svejnar, the James T. Shotwell Professor of Global Political Economy and Director of the Center on Global Economic Governance at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, New York.
Professor Svejnar will receive the IZA Prize, widely regarded as the most prestigious science award in the field of labor economics, for his major contributions to comparative economics in general and the economics of transition in particular. The award ceremony will be held during the annual IZA/World Bank Conference on Employment and Development in Bonn, Germany, June 4-6, 2015.
According to the award statement by the IZA Prize Committee, Professor Svejnar’s research on the transition from socialist to market economies “has broadened our understanding of this process in a fundamental way”. Soon after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Svejnar provided an elaborated policy agenda for a successful transition from socialist to market economies. In a seminal article published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (1991), he emphasized the need for micro adjustments to achieve macro stabilization in the transforming socialist economies.
Svejnar’s policy proposal emphasized the importance of a suitable legal framework to guide economic activity, the need for firms to become more efficient through strong incentives for managers and workers of state enterprises, as well as specific social and labor market reforms to enhance labor mobility. His reform proposals, particularly concerning the legal framework and corporate governance, contributed substantially to the performance of the transition economies.
Beyond his academic accomplishments, Professor Svejnar has served as an advisor to governments, international institutions, non-profit organizations and private-sector companies. He also served as Economic Advisor to the late Czech President Vaclav Havel and was one of two presidential candidates in the Czech Republic in 2008.
Read what other prominent economists say:
“Jan Svejnar is among those top economists who always have a policy perspective in mind. His insights have provided policymakers with the tools to master Europe’s greatest post-war challenge – the successful transition of the formerly socialist economies.”
(Klaus F. Zimmermann, IZA Director, University of Bonn)
“I want to congratulate my colleague Jan Svejnar for receiving the prestigious IZA Prize in Labor Economics. His contributions to our understanding of governance, globalization, and government policy – among many other topics – very much deserve this honor.”
(Joseph E. Stiglitz, Columbia University, 2001 Nobel Laureate
in Economics, 2005-2007 IZA Prize Committee)
“Jan Svejnar’s pioneering work on the transition of economies from centrally planned to market oriented has had enormous influence on both public policy and academic scholarship. Born in Czechoslovakia, Jan is himself an example of successful transition and an ideal selection for the prestigious IZA Prize.”
(Orley C. Ashenfelter, Princeton University, 2003 IZA Prize Laureate)
“Jan Svejnar is a wonderful choice for the 2015 IZA Prize. From his research on worker participation in firm management to the economics of transitioning communist countries, Jan Svejnar has had a profound influence on economics. Indeed, Svejnar helped to establish the entire field of transition economics.”
(Alan B. Krueger, Princeton University, 2006 IZA Prize Laureate)
“Jan Svejnar’s work has deepened our understanding of the pitfalls and opportunities facing emerging market economies. His analysis has contributed to economists’ theory and knowledge, but also has had direct effects on the policy choices made in various countries. The IZA Prize is a well-earned honor.”
(Rebecca M. Blank, University of Wisconsin-Madison,
2015 IZA Prize Committee)