Kortum wins 2018 Onassis Prize in International Trade

Friday, April 20, 2018
Sam Kortum portrait

Yale economist Samuel Kortum has won the 2018 Onassis Prize in International Trade for his research on the impact of technology on global trade. 

Kortum ’92 Ph.D., the James Burrows Moffatt Professor of Economics, shared the prize with his frequent collaborator, Jonathan Eaton ’73 M.A., ’76 Ph.D., distinguished professor of economics at Pennsylvania State University. They will accept the award at a banquet in London on Sept. 24.

The Onassis Prizes honor outstanding academic achievements that have had international significance in the fields of finance, trade, and shipping. The prizes are awarded every three years by Cass Business School London jointly with the Onassis Foundation.

Kortum said he began to collaborate with Eaton while they were faculty members at Boston University shortly after Kortum had completed graduate school.

We have worked side-by-side ever since, whether at the chalkboard struggling to understand a formal problem or at the computer screen struggling to improve the wording of a sentence,” he said. “Out of that struggle we began to realize that a useful theory of trade could emerge, capturing the classic idea of comparative advantage and amenable to quantification from observations on trade flows between any number of countries.”

Kortum said his work with Eaton has been its own reward, but added that receiving the Onassis Prize was “deeply gratifying as recognition that others value our contribution.”

In 2004, Kortum and Eaton received the prestigious Frisch Medal for their paper “Technology, Geography, and Trade” published in the journal Econometrica.

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