Jan Tinbergen


Portrait and autograph of Jan TinbergenJan Tinbergen (1903-1994) was a Dutch economist and Nobel Prize winner. He was born in The Hague, were he went to school and met his wife Tine de Wit. In 1921 he started his studies of Mathematics and physics at Leiden University. Among his teachers were Lorentz, Zeeman, Einstein and Kamerlingh Onnes.


After finishing his studies in 1921 and his thesis in 1929 he became head of the department of mathematical statistics of the Central Bureau of Statistics. Also he worked as a statistics professor at Amsterdam University. Together with Ragnar Frisch and others Tinbergen founded the Econometric Society. Its purpose was to study economic problems with the aid of statistical methods. In 1934 he helped writing the Plan van de Arbeid (Labour Plan) of the SDAP (Social-Democrat Party) of which he was a member since 1923.


Some years later Tinbergen was a temporary advisor to the Economic Intelligence Service of the League of Nations. In 1936 he published the first macro-economic model for the Netherlands. During the war he and other Leiden professors studied what the country should look like after the war. In 1945 he became the first director of the new CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.


Stamp from the NetherlandsIn 1955 he left the CPB to become guest professor at Harvard University. After returning to the Netherlands he taught at the Dutch School of Economics in Rotterdam. Also he was frequently recruited as special advisor, for instance by the governments of Indonesia and Surinam.


From 1966 till 1972 Tinbergen chaired the United Nations Committee for Development Planning (now Committee for Development Policy), its task being to formulate an international development strategy. The commission's plan included the creation of employment in the agricultural and building sectors, the further cooperation of developing countries and the obligation for developed countries to spend one percent of their gross national product to development aid. The proposal was rejected.


For the Club of Rome he contributed to a report on a more righteous world order. That new order should be based upon cooperation and the plan included the forming of a world government.


Jan Tinbergen, Perez de Cuellar, Terry Waite and Princess JulianaIn 1969 Tinbergen, together with Ragnar Frich, was awarded the first Nobel Prize for Economics for his research into and development of dynamic models for the analysis of economic processes.


In 1992 he received the Freedom from Want Award form the Roosevelt Foundation. The photo shows Tinbergen in the back together with other laureates Javier Perez de Cuellar and Terry Waite and Princess Juliana who presented the awards (photo: Jaap Wolterbeek).


His brother Niko Tinbergen was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1973, making them the only brothers ever to win a Nobel Prize.



Stamp catalogue


Netherlands                         26 September 1995









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last revised: 28 March 2010