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Simon Kuznets Memorial Lecture Series

Simon Kuznets

Simon Kuznets, 1901-1985

The Simon Kuznets Memorial Lecture is an annual event hosted by the Yale Economic Growth Center since 1987 and features a prominent economist speaking on issues in economic development. Since 2020, the Kuznets lecture has been combined with a mini-conference (typically day after lecture) that showcases cutting-edge research by younger researchers on topics covered in the lecture. And in Fall 2022, EGC launched the Kuznets Visiting Faculty Program, which brings economists to Yale for visits of 1-2 weeks. 

The lecture series was founded by EGC Faculty members in 1986 to honor Simon Kuznets, who had helped found the Center. The series is dedicated to “Quantitative Aspects of the Economic Growth of Nations,” the title Kuznets gave to his pioneering series of ten short monographs that were published by Economic Development and Cultural Change between 1956 and 1967.   

Born in 1901 in what is today Belarus, Kuznets had helped launch the US national income statistics series in 1934. The motivation was to use data for policy – the statistics series was issued to meet the need to describe consistently and in detail the economic toll taken by the Great Depression. Post World War II, Kuznets saw a need for a center to do what his home institutions weren’t able to do – to use data to understand development. He believed Yale was the ideal home for such a venture and he worked with the chair of Yale’s economics department and Ford Foundation to set up EGC in 1961.

Kuznets went on to receive the Nobel Prize in 1971 for theoretical and empirical contributions to the measurement of economic growth.  

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