Richard Lipsey

SSHRC

THE SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES RESEARCH COUNCIL GOLD MEDAL AWARD (March 2005)

These are notes taken from the Simon Fraser University Nomination of Richard Lipsey for the above award
• Professor Lipsey’s still active career in economics spans over 50 years and covers virtually all aspects of the discipline from theoretical to applied economics, from the theory of policy to nitty-gritty policy applications, policy advice and direct policy advocacy, from high level teaching to successful elementary text book writing, and from administration in universities to that of learned journals.

• His research career in mainline economics started with his first article, “The General Theory of Second Best”, published in 1956, that is still widely cited, and stretches up to today where he has in the press articles, on economic history, economic growth models, economic policy, a set of comments on the methodology of research related to multinationals, and a book of some 500,000 words, Economic Transformations, on which he has been working for 12 years. The last named is being written with two of his ex-students. It studies long term economic growth using an unusually wide range of techniques that include descriptive, institutional, and historical analyses, as well as formal mathematical models.

• His publications have covered virtually every aspect of economics with the exception of econometric theory (although in the 1973 he was elected a Fellow of The Econometric Society in recognition of his work in applied econometrics). Significant articles and other works cover macroeconomic theory, microeconomic theory, monetary theory, welfare economics, economic growth, economic history, methodology, and economic policy on both a theoretical and applied level relating to such topics as technology, growth and inflation.

• He has shown an interest in communicating his work to young students in the many text books that he has written. An Introduction to Positive Economics was first published in the U. K. in 1963 and was revolutionary in replacing the older Austrian and Robbinsian methodology based on premises tested by intuition by an empirically based, Popperian, approach to the subject. This book is currently in its 11th UK edition (now with a co-author, Alec Chrystal, one of Lipsey’s former students, and under a new name, Economics) and has been translated into over 15 foreign languages and sold several million copies. Lipsey adapted it for US in 1968 (in cooperation with Professor Steiner who was replaced by the current coauthor Paul Storer) and in Canada (in cooperation with a series of Canadian coauthors, currently Chris Ragan ) where it is still one of the market leaders. He has also published a text book to teach basic mathematics to those who start knowing no mathematics beyond algebra, a book that has had several editions for the UK and for North America, and several books on descriptive economics addressed mainly to U.K. beginning students.

• In the 1960s, he edited one of the most influential journals of economic theory, The Review of Economic Studies.

• He had a career of university administration in the U.K. as one of the five founding professors of the new University of Essex where he served as Dean of the School of Social Science, chairman of the Department of Economics and member of several key university committees.

• He has served on many academic and government advisory committees, including as founding member of the new Social Science Research Council in the UK, a member of the U.K. advisory board of The National, Institute of Economic and Social Research (the NIESR), the Canadian Government’s International, Trade Advisory Committee (ITAC) where he was chairman of the working party overseeing the implementation of the Canada US Free Trade Area, the Auditor General’s Panel of Senior Advisors, The Deputy Minister’s Academic Advisory Council on Canadian Trade Policy for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and Statistics Canada’s National Accounts Advisory Committee.

• He has used his research talents in many advisory activities, including being director of research into obstacles to growth in the early 1960s for the newly formed U. K. National Economic Development Council (popularly known as NEDY), through to being Senior Economic Advisor to the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto in the 1980s.

• He has written widely on applying the fruits of his research to policy matters, including publications commissioned by the OECD, the United Nations, and Industry Canada. For many years he wrote a bi-monthly column on Economic Policy in the Financial Post for which he won, along with Douglas Purvis, the National Business Writing Award “for distinguished financial writing by Canadians who are not primarily journalists”.

• He has initiated many activities that apply his theoretical knowledge to practical policy matters, including writing a basic paper that led to the establishment of an on-going  committee to foster the development of a centre of excellence for nanotechnology and quantum computing in Vancouver, the establishment of cultivation forests on First Nations land in B.C., and opposition to the spread of slot machine gambling in the Lower Mainland of B.C.

This is a range of activities not commonly found among academics.