Born: 12 April 1903, the Hague, the Netherlands
Died: 9 June 1994, the Hague, the Netherlands
Affiliation at the time of the award: The Netherlands School of Economics, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Prize motivation: "for having developed and applied dynamic models for the analysis of economic processes"
Contribution: Pioneering work on econometric model building. Constructed theories for stabilization policy and long-term economic planning.
Prize share: 1/2
Jan Tinbergen was born in The Hague and became interested in mathematics and natural science at an early age. He began studying physics in Leiden and took part in discussions with his professors, including Albert Einstein. His interests shifted to economics, which he thought would allow him to contribute more to society. Despite attempts to dissuade him, economics became his focus. He spent most of his career as a professor in the Netherlands. Jan Tinbergen's younger brother Nikolaas shared the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Like Ragnar Frisch before him, Jan Tinbergen was a pioneer in changing economics from a science formulated in words to one based on mathematics. During the 1930s he developed the first macroeconomic model that described in detail variables from the entire economy and placed them in a mathematical relationship with one another. Previously this could only be done in general terms, but now it could be done with concrete numbers. Jan Tinbergen used his knowledge of statistics to test models in order to choose those that were most suitable.