Jan Svejnar Wins 2015 IZA Award in Labor Economics

This year’s prestigious Bonn-based Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) Prize in Labor Economics has been awarded to Jan Svejnar, Director of the Center on Global Economic Governance (CGEG) at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and the James T. Shotwell Professor of Global Political Economy. Announced on April 14, the prize is considered one of the most distinguished international awards in labor economics and is awarded for outstanding academic achievement in the field of labor economics. It is meant to stimulate research that tries to find answers to the important labor market policy questions of our time. His work and leadership at the Center has become a hub for the advancement of new theories, studies, and policies around global governance challenges.

According to the Award Statement, the IZA prize pays tribute to Professor Svejnar’s major contributions to comparative economics in general and the economics of transition in particular. The IZA Prize Committee noted that Professor Svejnar’s research on the transition from socialist to market economies “has broadened our understanding of this process in a fundamental way.” IZA Director Klaus F. Zimmerann elaborated by stating that Professor Svejnar’s insights “have provided policymakers with the tools to master Europe’s greatest post-war challenge – the successful transition of the formerly socialist economist.”

Professor Svejnar’s recent research has been focused around the question of privatization, corporate and national governance, the role of human capital, institutional change, effects of foreign investment on innovation by local firms, and the relationship between wealth distribution and economic growth.

Professor Svejnar formerly served as an economic advisor to the late Czech President Vaclav Havel and, in 2008, was one of two presidential candidates in the Czech Republic.

Praise for the selection of Jan Svejnar for the 2015 IZA Prize in Labor Economics

“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 Blank, chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Madison; former acting U.S. secretary of commerce; IZA Prize Committee member, 2015

“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 Stiglitz, University Professor at Columbia University; winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics; former IZA Prize Committee member

“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 Ashenfelter, Joseph Douglas Green 1895 Professor of Economics at Princeton University; 2003 IZA Prize recipient

“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. In addition to his significant academic contributions, Professor Svejnar has also helped to found and guide CERGE-EI to become an outstanding graduate education and research center, advised the Czech government on economic policy and privatization procedures, and nearly became president of the Czech Republic.”

— Alan Krueger, Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University; former chairman, President’s Council of Economic Advisors; 2006 IZA Prize recipient

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Read the SIPA Press Release >>