The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1971
Born: 30 April 1901, Pinsk, Russian Empire (now Belarus)
Died: 8 July 1985, Cambridge, MA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
Prize motivation: “for his empirically founded interpretation of economic growth which has led to new and deepened insight into the economic and social structure and process of development”
Prize share: 1/1
Simon Kuznets was born in Pinsk in what is now Belarus, but he received his basic education in Kharkov in present-day Ukraine. In 1922 the family emigrated to the U.S. Four years later he had earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctor’s degrees at Columbia University. His instructor at Columbia, Wesley Mitchell, founded the National Bureau of Economic Research, with which Kuznets was affiliated for more than 30 years, beginning in 1927. This was also where he met his future wife, Edith; they married in 1927 and had two children.
Simon Kuznets is best known to the public for the Kuznets curve, which describes the relationship between economic growth and inequality. However, these theories are of a later date. His prize was awarded for his earlier work with growth and the economy’s size. He developed methods for calculating the size of a nation’s income and changes in it and standardized the concept of gross national product (GNP). Kuznets also analyzed swings in the economy’s growth rate over long periods and how these were connected with population growth.