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Professor Daron Acemoglu: oration

Read Dr Javier Rivas's oration on Professor Daron Acemoglu for the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in March 2017.


Professor Daron Acemoglu is the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a world-leading economist, known for his work on the importance of institutions for economic development. Born in Istanbul, Turkey, he obtained his BA degree from the University of York in 1989 and his MSc in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics in 1990 and PhD in 1992 from the London School of Economics. Professor Acemoglu was a lecturer in Economics at the LSE from 1992 to 1993, before becoming a member of the MIT faculty in 1993. He was promoted to full professor in 2000, only eight years after defending his PhD thesis and, at the age of 34, and was named the Charles P. Kindleberger Professor of Applied Economics in 2004. He was appointed to his current chair in 2010.

The main fields of interest for Professor Acemoglu are political economy, development economics, economic growth, technology, income and wage inequality, human capital and training, and labour economics. He has published in all the highest-ranked journals in economics. Just since 2015, he has published nine so-called “top-five” papers, among other excellent publications. This alone is more than what most academic economists publish in their whole career.

In 2005, Prof. Acemoglu won the John Bates Clark Medal, quite possibly the most highly regarded prize given to economists under 40, and he is among the ten most cited economists in the world. His most cited article is ‘Colonial origins of comparative development’, published in 2001, with almost 10,000; He has an h-index, number of papers with at least that number of citations, of 111.

Professor Acemoglu is the author of several books including Why nations fail and Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (both co-authored by James Robinson from Harvard University). The latter book has received numerous awards, such as the George S. Eccles Award for Excellence and the Best Political Book of the Year Award. In these books, as well as in his academic papers, his ability to model mathematically phenomena such as revolutions and coups d’état and his expertise at testing these models empirically with real world data is second to none and his models and instruments have inspired countless work by others.

Professor Acemoglu is also committed to the application of these ideas to the benefit of society. For example, he is a member of the Economic Growth programme of the Canadian Institute of Advanced Research, the National Bureau of Economic Research in the USA, the Center for Economic Performance, the International Growth Centre and the Centre for Economic Policy Research in the UK. He is currently the co-editor of Econometrica and associate editor of the Journal of Economic Growth, and has served on the editorial board of numerous other journals, such as the Review of Economic Studies and the Journal of Economic Literature.

His research contributions have been recognised around the world. He is an elected member of the Turkish Academy of Sciences and elected member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. On top of that, he is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Econometric Society and the European Economic Association. He holds honorary degrees from the Universities of Athens, Bilkent, Bosporus and Utrecht.

Professor Acemoglu is an example of hard work and passion. He is an inspiring leader, who is making a substantial and impressive contribution to the economics science literature that will be remembered for many years.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I present to you Professor Daron Acemoglu who is eminently worthy to receive the Degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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