Jan Tinbergen (April 12, 1903 – June 9, 1994), was a Dutch economist. He was awarded the first Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in 1969, which he shared with Ragnar Frisch for having developed and applied dynamic models for the analysis of economic processes. Tinbergen was a founding trustee of Economists for Peace and Security.


Jan Tinbergen was the eldest of five children of Dirk Cornelis Tinbergen and Jeannette van Eek. His brother Niko would also win a Nobel Prize (for physiology, during 1973) for his work in ethology, while his youngest brother Luuk would become a famous ornithologist. Tinbergen studied mathematics and physics at the University of Leiden under Paul Ehrenfest. During 1929 he earned his PhD degree at this university with his thesis entitled "Minimumproblemen in de natuurkunde en de economie" (Minimisation problems in Physics and Economics). From 1929 till 1945 he worked, in addition to his professorship at Erasmus University Rotterdam, for the Dutch statistical office. He was also consultant to the League of Nations. From 1945 till 1955 he served as the first director of the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis. Jan Tinbergen was a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science and of the International Academy of Science. During 1956 he founded the Econometric Institute at the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam together with Henri Theil, who also was his successor in Rotterdam. The Tinbergen Institute was named in his honour. The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) awarded its Honorary Fellowship to Jan Tinbergen in 1962.

Tinbergen became known for his 'Tinbergen Norm', which is the principle that, if the difference between the least and greatest income in a company exceeds a rate of 1:5, that will not help the company and may be counterproductive.

Tinbergen developed the first national comprehensive macroeconomic model, which he first developed in 1936 for the Netherlands, and later applied to the United States and the United Kingdom.

In his work on macroeconomic modeling and economic policy making, Tinbergen classified some economic quantities as targets and others as instruments.[1] Targets are those macroeconomic variables the policy maker wishes to influence, whereas instruments are the variables that the policy maker can control directly. Tinbergen emphasized that achieving the desired values of a certain number of targets requires the policy maker to control an equal number of instruments.

Tinbergen's classification remains influential today, underlying the theory of monetary policy used by central banks. Many central banks today regard the inflation rate as their target; the policy instrument they use to control inflation is the short-term interest rate.[2]

Tinbergen's work on macroeconomic models was later continued by Lawrence Klein, contributing to another Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. For his cultural contributions, he was given the Gouden Ganzenveer in 1985.[3]

Tinbergen’s econometric modelling lead to a lively debate with well several known participants including J.M. Keynes, Ragnar Frisch and Milton Friedman. The debate is sometime referred to as the Tinbergen debate, [4][5]
Selected Publications of Jan Tinbergen

Centralization and Decentralization in Economic Policy. Westport: Greenwood, 1981. ISBN 0-313-23077-3.
Der Dialog Nord-Süd: Informationen zur Entwicklungspolitik. Frankfurt am Main: Europ. Verlagsanstalt, 1977.
The Dynamics of Business Cycles: A Study in Economic Fluctuations. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1974. ISBN 0-226-80418-6.
On the Theory of Economic Policy. Second edition (1952) is Volume 1 of Contributions to Economic Analysis, Amsterdam: North-Holland.
Economic policy: Principles and Design. Amsterdam, 1978. ISBN 0-7204-3129-8.

Articles about Jan Tinbergen

Rompzy, Eric van. Jan Tinbergen. Antwerpen: NBH, 1974.

See also

List of economists


^ Klein, Lawrence, (2004), 'The contribution of Jan Tinbergen to economic science.' De Economist, 152 (2), pp. 155-157.
^ Blinder, Alan (2000), Central Banking in Theory and Practice. MIT Press.
^ "Laureaten De Gouden Ganzenveer vanaf 1955". Stichting De Gouden Ganzenveer. 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
^ Leeson, R.(1998). The Ghosts I Called I Can’t Get Rid of Now: the Keynes-Tinbergen-Friedman-Phillips Critique of Keynesian Macroeconometrics, History of Political Economy, 30(1), pp. 51-94.
^ Louçã, F. (1999). The econometric challenge to Keynes: arguments and contradictions in the early debate about a late issue, The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 6, 404-438.

External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Jan Tinbergen

O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Jan Tinbergen", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
TINBERGEN, Jan in: Biografisch Woordenboek van het Socialisme en de Arbeidersbeweging in Nederland
Jan Tinbergen (1903-1994) Koninklijke Bibliotheek
Jan Tinbergen
Jan Tinbergen College (Dutch website)
Profile at The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS)

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