Simon Kuznets

Banquet speech

Simon Kuznets’ speech at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm, December 10, 1971

Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,

When, over fifty years ago, I first became interested in economics – as a discipline that provided the key to social structure and social problems – it never crossed my mind that one day I might be the honored recipient of a Nobel Memorial Prize. Economists must always be prepared for surprises: they find many in trying to find order in the universe of their study. But I must confess that in long retrospect this Prize does seem a most unexpected surprise, to which I am still trying to adjust.

Adjusted or not, let me express my deep appreciation of the honor, and gratitude for the kind hospitality extended by the Nobel Foundation. It is also particularly fitting on this occasion to recognize the challenging task faced and generously accepted by the selection committee of Swedish economists. With the variety of fields within economics, broadly conceived and the increasing specialization of scholarly world, the award of a Nobel Memorial Prize honors not only the individual scholar but, implicitly, also a special field or a distinctive method. The effort that must have been devoted and will continue to be devoted over the years to come by the selection committee is formidable, even given the help of consultators and nominators. Yet the discriminating consensus, which will hopefully be provided, would serve to focus scholarly research in the more promising directions – a great service in a rapidly growing discipline subject to frequent changes in intellectual fashions and in the nature of the pressing policy problems.

Memorable occasions should be brief, and so should be the expressions of appreciation. Taking this lesson to heart, let me conclude by saying “many thanks” to our kind hosts.

From Les Prix Nobel en 1971, Editor Wilhelm Odelberg, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1972

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1971

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