Intellectuals & Academics » Economists » JAN TINBERGEN
|Full name||: Jan Tinbergen|
|Alias||: Jan Tinbergen|
|Address||: The Hague|
|Animals||: The Rabbit|
|Father||: Dirk Cornelis Tinbergen|
|Mother||: Jeannette van Eek|
|Siblings||: Nikolaas Tinbergen (zoologist), Luuk Tinbergen|
|Education||: Leiden University|
If there ever was an economist who contributed quite significantly to the field of economics, it has to be Jan Tinbergen. Jan Tinbergen was a Dutch economist, who as far as his contributions to the field of economics went, strayed away from the beaten path. He broke new grounds in the development of econometrics, which connected mathematics and statistics to economic theory. Jan Tinbergen’s moment of glory came when he received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1969. He shared this award with Ragnar Frisch. To be more specific, Jan Tinbergen and Ragnar Frisch were the first to be awarded the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for having churned out dynamic and innovative models that helped analyze economic processes. Jan Tinbergen was also the founding trustee of Economists for Peace and Security. Read on for a closer look at Jan Tinbergen’s profile, childhood, life and timeline.
Right after completing his Ph.D. in 1929, Jan Tinbergen joined the Central Bureau of Statistics, which was the Dutch government’s main economic planning and propelling unit. He worked with the organization until 1945, except during 1936-1938. During this period, he was employed by the League of Nations as a business-cycle research expert. In the year 1933, Tinbergen was taken in a professor of development at the Netherlands School of Economics at Rotterdam. Post his stint at the Central Bureau of Statistics, Jan Tinbergen served as the director of the Central Planning Bureau of the Dutch government, serving in this capacity from 1945 to 1955. He then played an advisory role, acting as an advisor to quite a number of governments and international organizations. As an advisor to such prominent bodies, Tinbergen paid special attention to the miseries of underdeveloped countries.
Econometrics is where Tinbergen contributed his most and best. Tinbergen was famous for the ‘Tinbergen Norm’, which is the principle that states that if the ratio between the minimum and maximum income of a company exceeds a rate of 1:5, then this will not help the company grow from strength to strength. The ‘norm’ implied that a rate such as this would only be against the scope of production.
Tinbergen was also lauded for developing the first national and fully inclusive macroeconomic model. The ‘prototype’ was first developed in 1936 for Netherlands’ economy. The success and the popularity of the model soon saw a modified version of the same being applied to the economies of the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Tinbergen’s approach to economics remains significant to this day, his theory of the monetary policy used by central banks all over the world being most noteworthy.
Right after World War II took the world by surprise, Tinbergen’s work acted as the foundation to the economic plans made by the Dutch government. This was something that happened when Tinbergen was serving as a director at the Central Planning Bureau. The Dutch were pioneers of sorts, because they introduced to the world the organized use of econometric models that helped in the planning of economic policies. Keeping the Dutch model as the base, newer versions of the same were bought to the forefront.
Jan Tinbergen unleashed the concepts of ‘targets’ and ‘instruments’. Targets were built after taking into consideration economic goals, while instruments were what helped achieve the goals. The approach to problems that Tinbergen chose to take was contrary to orthodox approaches, where independent variable values were computed after taking into consideration the values of dependent variables. It might surprise you when you discover that most, if not all, of the United States of America’s econometric models are in line with the work done by Jan Tinbergen.
The eldest of five children of Dirk Cornelis Tinbergen, a schoolmaster and Jeannette van Eek, a former primary school teacher, Jan Tinbergen had the making of a genius from a very young age. As a boy, he attended the Hogere Bugerschool in The Hague. Hogere Bugerschool was meant for children of middle class parentage who were looking to better their social standing or status in society. Tinbergen’s school permitted entry to the university system after a student passed additional examinations in Latin and Greek. This is exactly what Tinbergen did when he passed the additional examinations to enter the University of Leiden in 1921.
At the University of Leiden, Tinbergen was most influenced by his teacher Ehrenfest and took up mathematics and theoretical physics. At the University, he started a club for social democratic students and was instrumental in starting a student newspaper. As a student, Tinbergen was involved in a lot more than just academics. His first few publications were articles that appeared in the socialist newspaper ‘Het Volk’. Through these articles, Tinbergen spotlit how the effects of economic depression of the early 1920s led to unemployment and also how the standard of living of the poor was affected due to the same. Tinbergen’s political interests lay with the views and opinions of the left wing.
After completing his undergraduate studies from Ledien, Tinbergen went to pursue doctorate degree under the guidance of Ehrenfest. His thesis work was based on physics, economics and mathematics. In the introduction to his thesis, Tinbergen thanked Ehrenfest for helping him discover such a topic. Such was the respect that Tinbergen had for his mentor. The topic of his thesis allowed him to merge his political interests with mathematical principles. In the year 1929, Tinbergen submitted his dissertation. The significance of Tinbergen’s work at the university level laid in the fact that it was one the first efforts to come up with new ideas in mathematics or mathematical modeling. Tinbergen’s work brought to light how mathematics could be applied to a larger spectrum of areas. For the record, Tinbergen received his Ph. D. degree from the University of Ledien and his thesis, now considered a masterpiece, was titled, "Minimumproblemen in de natuurkunde en de economie”, which means ‘Minimisation problems in Physics and Economics’.
During his lifetime, Jan Tinbergen was the recipient of twenty honorary degrees from institutions all over the world. He died in the Netherlands on June 9, 1944. To this very day, The Tinbergen Institute stands in the memory of Tinbergen at Rotterdam. Apart from his economic contributions, Tinbergen was noted and love for his magnanimity and concern for society.
From 1965 to 1972, Tinbergen served as the Chairman of the United Nations Committee for Development Planning. This was when he helped more than twenty institutes around the world in economic planning and implementations. The countries that Tinbergen helped included Chile, Turkey and even India. He achieved international acclaim when he along with Ragnar Frisch from Norway received the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. The prestigious award was handed over to the two men for developing mathematical models that could be used in econometrics.
Tinbergen, after putting in forty years of service at the Netherlands School of Economics, retired from the institute in 1973. Post retirement, he published works that revolved around economic theory. His most prominent published efforts includes ‘Income Distribution’ (1975), ‘Warfare and Welfare’ (1987) and ‘World Security and Equity’ (1990).
Tinbergen, during the 1980s, made serious attempts at convincing the world’s developed nations to go out of their way to economically assist the developing nations of the world. In an interview, he famously said, “"Individual countries, with their limited resources, cannot stimulate the economy, but together they may succeed." As more of a humanitarian and less of an economist, Tinbergen focused on building a steadfast relationship between the continent of Europe and Japan, all the while criticizing the United States of America for being a mute spectator, rather than increasing aid to countries in need of the same. For his efforts, in 1992, Jan Tinbergen received the Four Freedoms Award.