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Simon Kuznets's Personal Details

Simon Kuznets was a noted Russian-American economist, statistician, demographer, and economic historian

InformationDetail
BirthdayApril 30, 1901
Died onJuly 8, 1985
NationalityAmerican
FamousColumbia University, Intellectuals & Academics, Economists
City/StateMassachusetts
SpousesEdith Handler
Childrens Judith Stein, Paul Kuznets
Universities
  • Columbia University
  • Columbia University
  • Columbia University School of General Studies
Notable Alumnis
  • Columbia University
Discoveries / Inventions
  • Life-Cycle-Permanent-Income Hypothesis
Birth PlacePinsk
ReligionJewish
GenderMale
Sun SignTaurus
Born inPinsk
Famous asEconomist
Died at Age84

// Famous Intellectuals & Academics

Simon Kuznets's photo

Who is Simon Kuznets?

Simon Kuznets was a noted Russian-American economist, statistician, demographer, and economic historian, born into a well-to-do Jewish family in Belarus at the turn of the twentieth century. Although he started his college education at Kharkiv, he had to leave the country before he could earn his degrees. Subsequently, he immigrated to the USA, where he completed his education at the Columbia University, earning his degrees in quick succession. Thereafter, he began his career as a member of research staff at the National Bureau of Economic Research, shortly becoming the head of the Bureau’s work on national income accounts. Although many believe he earned his Nobel Prize for this work it was his empirical work on an economic growth that began in northwestern Europe in late eighteenth century and later moved eastward to Russia and Japan that earned him the coveted prize. Another of his important contribution was what we now know as ‘Kuznets Cycle’. It refers to the cyclical nature of production and prices, spanning a period of 15/20 years. Apart from a meticulous researcher, he was also a well-known academic. Beginning his teaching career at University of Pennsylvania, he later moved to Hopkins University and finally to Harvard.

// Famous Economists

Childhood & Early Years

Simon Kuznets was born on April 30, 1901 in the city of Pinsk, then under the Russian Empire. Not much is known about Simon’s parents except that his father was a banker and that they had three sons, out of which Simon was born second.

Simon began his primary education in Pinsk. Later at the age of nine or ten, he moved with his family to Rovno in Eastern Ukraine, also a part of Russian Empire. There they lived with his mother’s family, who were well-to-do furriers there.

In Rovno, he was enrolled at the secondary school. Concurrently, he received his training in Judaism and Jewish history from his grandparents. Thus he was raised in mixture secular and Jewish heritage.

Sometime before the start of the First World War, his father and older brother migrated to the United States while he and his younger brother stayed back with their invalid mother. In the USA, his father changed his surname to Smith; however Simon never took it up.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, due to Jewish expulsion, the family was forced to leave Rovno. They now settled in Kharkiv/Kharkov, located in Western Ukraine, then a part of Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Here in October, 1916, Simon entered Kharkiv High school for his secondary education. It was in this school that he was first introduced to economics. During this period, he was much influenced by Joseph Schumpeter's theory of innovation and the business cycle.

In 1818, Simon Kuznets entered Kharkiv Institute of Commerce under the Kharkiv National University of Economics with economic sciences, statistics, history and mathematics. Here he had a rigorous training in statistical and empirical methods and acquired a thorough knowledge in economics, history, demography, statistics and natural sciences.

Unfortunately, his education was interrupted when after the 1920 civil war the Soviet Government took over the town and started reorganizing the University courses. Although it is not known if he had actually left the university at this point it is certain that he did not complete his courses there.

It is also known that sometime in 1920, he joined the Department of Labor of UZHBURO (South Bureau) of the Central Council of Trade Unions. Here, he published his first scientific paper, entitled ‘Monetary wages and salaries of factory workers in Kharkiv in 1920’.

In 1921, the family, along with many other Jews, was deported to Poland. Although their father wanted them to join him at the USA, they were reluctant to do so because of their mother’s delicate health. However, when Simon Kuznets was arrested for no specific reason, the family decided to move.

Sometime after that, the three left for the USA. Unfortunately, their mother never reached her destination, dying on the way in Warsaw. Travelling via the Free City of Dantzig, the two brothers joined their father in the USA in 1922.

In the same year, Simon Kuznets enrolled at the Columbia University, New York and resumed his studies in economics, earning his B. Sc degree in 1923 and M.A. degree in 1924.

In 1925, Simon Kuznets joined Social Science Research Council as a Research Fellow. Here he studied economic patterns in prices for one and half years with Wesley Clair Mitchell.

Later, he defended the work as his doctoral thesis and earned his PhD in 1926. Many of his future research efforts were actually based on this doctoral dissertation entitled ‘Cyclical Fluctuations in Retail and Wholesale Trade’.

Career

In 1927, Simon Kuznets began his career as a member of research staff at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a private nonprofit research organization, co-founded by his doctoral advisor Wesley Clair Mitchell. He remained associated with the institution till 1961.

At NBER, he continued to expand on his doctoral dissertation, basing his work on the long series of economic dynamics undertaken in the USA in the middle of 1920s. In 1930, he published the result as ‘Secular Movements in Production and Prices: Their Nature and Their Bearing upon Cyclical Fluctuations’.

In 1931, Kuznets became in charge of National Bureau’s work on national income accounts. In the same year, he was appointed a part-time professor at the University of Pennsylvania. From now until 1961, he would hold his teaching posts simultaneously with his research job at NBER.

Continuing his research on national income at NBER, Kuznets submitted a comprehensive report in 1934. He first provided an assessment of the national income in the US for the period of 1929 to 1932. Later it was extended from 1919 to 1938 and finally to 1869.

On analyzing them meticulously, he identified certain medium-range economic waves, spanning a period of 15 to 25 years. Thereafter, he connected them with demographic processes, especially with the inflow and outflow of the immigrants and their effect in construction business.

Later he denoted that these movements as demographic cycles or swings. Today they are known as ‘Kuznets Cycles/Swings’ and interpreted as infrastructural investment cycles. The work made him justly famous.

In 1936, he was made a full professor at the University of Pennsylvania, a position he held till 1954. Also in 1936, he took the lead in establishing the Conference on Research Income and Wealth, a body comprising of government officials and academics.

In 1942, Kuznets was elected the Associate Director of the Bureau of Planning and Statistics, War Production Board. His main responsibility was to assess the nation’s capability of expanding its military production and he worked in this capacity till 1944.

After the end of the Second World War, he was appointed advisor to a number of economically weak countries such as China, Japan, India, Korea, Taiwan, and Israel. By then, he had moved into a new research area involving the relation between changes in income and overall growth.

His main focus was on demographic growth, growth of knowledge, in-country adaptation to growth factors, and external economic relations between the countries. The International Association for Research in Income and Wealth he helped to establish in 1947 was the result of this work.

Sometime now, he also worked with the Growth Center of Yale University to establish Social Science Research Council Committee on Economic Growth, holding the post of its chairman from 1949 to 1968. In this capacity, he worked mainly on the comparative quantitative analysis of economic growth of different nations.

Next in 1953, he was elected a member of the Board of Trustees and Honorary Chairman, Maurice Falk Institute for Economic Research in Israel, a position he held until 1963. Simultaneously, he continued with teaching position.

In 1954, he left to the University of Pennsylvania to join Johns Hopkins University as the Professor of Political Economy, holding the position till 1960. Thereafter he joined Harvard University, remaining with it till 1971. Concurrently, from 1961 to 1970, he was the Chairman, Social Science Research Council Committee on the Economy of China.

Kuznets continued to work well into 1970s. During this period, he mainly worked on the interaction between science and technology as well as on the institutional shifts. Besides, external factors such as the moral and political climate in society etc were also subject of his study.

Major Works

Simon Kuznets is best known for his studies of national income and its components. Prior to his work, GDP was determined mostly by rough guesses with neither the government agencies nor the private researchers collecting the data so meticulously.

Starting his work in 1931, he computed national income back to 1869 and then broke it down first by industries, then by final products and finally by use. He also worked on the distribution of income between rich and poor. The work, which spanned for almost a decade, later became a standard in this field.

Awards & Achievements

In 1971, Simon Kuznets received the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1971 "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.

In 1977, he was awarded the Medal of Francis Walker by the American Economic Association. He was also a member of the said association and was elected its President in 1954.

In addition, he was a member of American Statistical Association and was elected its President in 1949. Besides, he was also a member of Royal Academy of Sweden, American Philosophical Society, International Statistical Institute and Economic History Association.

He was also elected a fellow of Econometric Society, honorary fellow of Royal Statistical Society of England and corresponding fellow of British Academy.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1929, Kuznets married Edith Handler, a Russian-Canadian Jew. They had two children; Paul and Judith and from them, four grandchildren. Later Paul became a Professor of Economics at the University of Indiana while Judith married a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Rochester.

Although he brought up his children strictly in secular American manner, he retained a personal interest in the affairs of Soviet Russia and was a great opponent of the communist regime there. He was also an avid reader of Russian literature and like most other Jews was highly affected by the Holocaust.

Towards the end of his career, he set up his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts and died there on July 8, 1985. He was then 84 years old.

In 1913, The Kharkiv National University of Economics, where he studied from 1918 to 1921, was renamed in his honor as Semen Kuznets Kharkiv National University of Economics.

// Famous Alumni of Columbia University

Simon Kuznets awards

YearNameAward

Other

1971 - Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

Simon Kuznets biography timelines

  • // 1818
    In 1818, Simon Kuznets entered Kharkiv Institute of Commerce under the Kharkiv National University of Economics with economic sciences, statistics, history and mathematics. Here he had a rigorous training in statistical and empirical methods and acquired a thorough knowledge in economics, history, demography, statistics and natural sciences.
  • // 30th Apr 1901
    Simon Kuznets was born on April 30, 1901 in the city of Pinsk, then under the Russian Empire. Not much is known about Simon’s parents except that his father was a banker and that they had three sons, out of which Simon was born second.
  • // Oct 1916
    Here in October, 1916, Simon entered Kharkiv High school for his secondary education. It was in this school that he was first introduced to economics. During this period, he was much influenced by Joseph Schumpeter's theory of innovation and the business cycle.
  • // 1920
    Unfortunately, his education was interrupted when after the 1920 civil war the Soviet Government took over the town and started reorganizing the University courses. Although it is not known if he had actually left the university at this point it is certain that he did not complete his courses there.
  • // 1920
    It is also known that sometime in 1920, he joined the Department of Labor of UZHBURO (South Bureau) of the Central Council of Trade Unions. Here, he published his first scientific paper, entitled ‘Monetary wages and salaries of factory workers in Kharkiv in 1920’.
  • // 1920 To 1930
    At NBER, he continued to expand on his doctoral dissertation, basing his work on the long series of economic dynamics undertaken in the USA in the middle of 1920s. In 1930, he published the result as ‘Secular Movements in Production and Prices: Their Nature and Their Bearing upon Cyclical Fluctuations’.
  • // 1921
    In 1921, the family, along with many other Jews, was deported to Poland. Although their father wanted them to join him at the USA, they were reluctant to do so because of their mother’s delicate health. However, when Simon Kuznets was arrested for no specific reason, the family decided to move.
  • // 1922
    Sometime after that, the three left for the USA. Unfortunately, their mother never reached her destination, dying on the way in Warsaw. Travelling via the Free City of Dantzig, the two brothers joined their father in the USA in 1922.
  • // 1923 To 1924
    In the same year, Simon Kuznets enrolled at the Columbia University, New York and resumed his studies in economics, earning his B. Sc degree in 1923 and M.A. degree in 1924.
  • // 1925
    In 1925, Simon Kuznets joined Social Science Research Council as a Research Fellow. Here he studied economic patterns in prices for one and half years with Wesley Clair Mitchell.
  • // 1926
    Later, he defended the work as his doctoral thesis and earned his PhD in 1926. Many of his future research efforts were actually based on this doctoral dissertation entitled ‘Cyclical Fluctuations in Retail and Wholesale Trade’.
  • // 1927
    In 1927, Simon Kuznets began his career as a member of research staff at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a private nonprofit research organization, co-founded by his doctoral advisor Wesley Clair Mitchell. He remained associated with the institution till 1961.
  • // 1929
    In 1929, Kuznets married Edith Handler, a Russian-Canadian Jew. They had two children; Paul and Judith and from them, four grandchildren. Later Paul became a Professor of Economics at the University of Indiana while Judith married a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Rochester.
  • // 1931 To 1961
    In 1931, Kuznets became in charge of National Bureau’s work on national income accounts. In the same year, he was appointed a part-time professor at the University of Pennsylvania. From now until 1961, he would hold his teaching posts simultaneously with his research job at NBER.
  • // 1931
    Starting his work in 1931, he computed national income back to 1869 and then broke it down first by industries, then by final products and finally by use. He also worked on the distribution of income between rich and poor. The work, which spanned for almost a decade, later became a standard in this field.
  • // 1936 To 1954
    In 1936, he was made a full professor at the University of Pennsylvania, a position he held till 1954. Also in 1936, he took the lead in establishing the Conference on Research Income and Wealth, a body comprising of government officials and academics.
  • // 1942 To 1944
    In 1942, Kuznets was elected the Associate Director of the Bureau of Planning and Statistics, War Production Board. His main responsibility was to assess the nation’s capability of expanding its military production and he worked in this capacity till 1944.
  • // 1947
    His main focus was on demographic growth, growth of knowledge, in-country adaptation to growth factors, and external economic relations between the countries. The International Association for Research in Income and Wealth he helped to establish in 1947 was the result of this work.
  • // 1949 To 1968
    Sometime now, he also worked with the Growth Center of Yale University to establish Social Science Research Council Committee on Economic Growth, holding the post of its chairman from 1949 to 1968. In this capacity, he worked mainly on the comparative quantitative analysis of economic growth of different nations.
  • // 1949
    In addition, he was a member of American Statistical Association and was elected its President in 1949. Besides, he was also a member of Royal Academy of Sweden, American Philosophical Society, International Statistical Institute and Economic History Association.
  • // 1953 To 1963
    Next in 1953, he was elected a member of the Board of Trustees and Honorary Chairman, Maurice Falk Institute for Economic Research in Israel, a position he held until 1963. Simultaneously, he continued with teaching position.
  • // 1954 To 1977
    In 1977, he was awarded the Medal of Francis Walker by the American Economic Association. He was also a member of the said association and was elected its President in 1954.
  • // 1970
    Kuznets continued to work well into 1970s. During this period, he mainly worked on the interaction between science and technology as well as on the institutional shifts. Besides, external factors such as the moral and political climate in society etc were also subject of his study.
  • // 1971
    In 1971, Simon Kuznets received the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1971 "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.
  • // 8th Jul 1985
    Towards the end of his career, he set up his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts and died there on July 8, 1985. He was then 84 years old.

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Simon Kuznets's FAQ

  • What is Simon Kuznets birthday?

    Simon Kuznets was born at 1901-04-30

  • When was Simon Kuznets died?

    Simon Kuznets was died at 1985-07-08

  • Where was Simon Kuznets died?

    Simon Kuznets was died in Cambridge

  • Which age was Simon Kuznets died?

    Simon Kuznets was died at age 84

  • Where is Simon Kuznets's birth place?

    Simon Kuznets was born in Pinsk

  • What is Simon Kuznets nationalities?

    Simon Kuznets's nationalities is American

  • Who is Simon Kuznets spouses?

    Simon Kuznets's spouses is Edith Handler

  • Who is Simon Kuznets childrens?

    Simon Kuznets's childrens is Judith Stein, Paul Kuznets

  • What was Simon Kuznets universities?

    Simon Kuznets studied at Columbia University, Columbia University, Columbia University School of General Studies

  • What was Simon Kuznets notable alumnis?

    Simon Kuznets's notable alumnis is Columbia University

  • What is Simon Kuznets's inventions/discoveries?

    Life-Cycle-Permanent-Income Hypothesis was invented (or discovered) by Simon Kuznets

  • What is Simon Kuznets's religion?

    Simon Kuznets's religion is Jewish

  • What is Simon Kuznets's sun sign?

    Simon Kuznets is Taurus

  • How famous is Simon Kuznets?

    Simon Kuznets is famouse as Economist