Professor Christopher Whelan, RIP

Prof. Chris Whelan passed away this week. He was Professor Emeritus of Sociology at UCD, a former Research Professor at the ESRI and Member of the Royal Irish Academy. The funeral notice is here. A brief summary of his career is provided by the ESRI.

Chris began his career with the Institute as a Research Assistant in 1972, becoming Research Professor in 1992. During this time, Chris coordinated research programmes in the areas of social inclusion, social cohesion and quality of life, publishing extensively on these topics and on economic and social change in Ireland during bust and boom. He left the ESRI in 2009 when he was appointed to the Chair in Sociology in UCD, but continued his connection with the Institute as a Research Affiliate.

The full tribute from the ESRI is available at the following link:

Barrington Prize, 2022/2023

The Statistical & Social Inquiry Society of Ireland is delighted to open a call for entrants for the Barrington Prize for its 176th session, which takes place between September 2022 and June 2023. More details are given below.

Call for entrants
The Barrington Medal is awarded annually by the Council of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland under the auspices of the Barrington Trust (founded in 1836 by the bequest of John Barrington). The award, which includes both a silver medal and €1,000, is intended to recognise a promising new researcher in the economic and social sciences in Ireland. This will be the 173rd anniversary of the lecture series and the recipient will be the 132nd Barrington Lecturer. Recipients in the past 35 years include:
Deirdre McHugh, Don Thornhill, George Lee, Alan Joyce, Daniel McCoy, Brian Lucey, Kevin O’Rourke, Siobhan Lucey, Mary Walsh, Philip Lane, Aidan Kane, Donal O’Neill, Peter Clinch, Colm Harmon, Ronnie O’Toole, Cathal O’Donoghue, Paul McNicholas, Mary Keeney, Liam Delaney, Martina Lawless, Cal Muckley, Orla Doyle, Yvonne McCarthy, Ronan Lyons, Mark McGovern, Rebecca Stuart, Karina Doorley, Daragh Clancy, Barra Roantree, Niall Farrell and Paul Kilgarriff.

The lecture should be based on a paper of not more than 7,500 words addressing a topic of relevance to economic or social policy and of current interest in Ireland. In treating the issue of economic or social policy, the paper may either report the findings of a statistical research study dealing with some aspect of the problem or deal with the underlying theoretical considerations involved, or preferably combine these two approaches. It should be written in a manner that makes it accessible to non-specialists in the area. More technical material may be included in an appendix. The paper is published in the Journal of the Society, so it should not have been published before (nor should it be published subsequently without the prior consent of the Council of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland).

Candidates, who at the time of their submission must be not more than 35 years of age, should at least submit a detailed abstract of approximately 1,000 words on the proposed lecture, with preference being given to full papers. A short CV and the name of a proposer who is familiar with their work should also be submitted. Entries will be accepted from 1st June to 31st August, 2022 and should be sent to the Honorary Secretaries of the Society, via email, using the email address, as should any queries regarding this call for entrants.

Two Permanent Lectureships in Economics at NUI Galway

The Discipline of Economics at NUI Galway invites applications for two permanent lectureships (above the bar) in economics. The positions relate to (i) health and wellbeing, and (ii) development, inclusion, and sustainability. Full details of the posts can be found here.

EVENT and INVITATION: Government Economists for New Economic Systems

OECD Unit for New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC)


Thursday 4 November, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm (CET) 


New analytical and systems-oriented approaches and integrated policy approaches are required to understand and manage inter-connected systemic issues.

In a Systemic Recovery from Covid-19, as governments are forced to apply cross-disciplinary and integrative economics to the formulation and implementation of policy, it will become increasingly necessary to build new analytical capabilities and narratives within governments.

In moving from analysis and diagnoses of systemic challenges to policy alternatives, the New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) Unit at the OECD has establishedGovernment Economists for New Economic Systems (GENESYS) as a platform for debating, experimenting and discussing policy alternatives and the analytical approaches which underpin them.

Opened by the President of the Eurogroup, Irish Finance Minister,  Paschal Donohoe

Followed by a roundtable discussion on lessons from the Covid crisis for new economic thinking and acting, chaired by Financial Times Associate Editor Rana Foroohar with panellists:

Jonathan D. Ostry, Deputy Director of the Research Department, International Monetary Fund and Research Fellow at the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) “Challenges for Policies”
Jo Swinson, Director, Partners for a New Economy (P4NE)
William White, Senior Fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute, Toronto, and former chairman of the OECD Economic and Development Review Committee
Sweta C. Saxena, Chief, Macroeconomic Policy and Financing for Development, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)
Eric Beinhocker, Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) Oxford, and Professor, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford
Megan Greene, Economist, Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School
Angus Armstrong, Director, Rebuilding Macroeconomics
Thomas Fricke, Director, New Economy Forum and Chief Economist, European Climate Foundation
Michael Jacobs, Professorial Fellow, Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI)
Alan Kirman, Chief Advisor to the NAEC Initiative

If you wish to join the GENESYS network, please send your name, email address and affiliation to

Ronald Findlay, 1935-2021

Ronald Findlay, who died late last week, was one of the finest trade theorists of his generation. Born in Rangoon in 1935, his first papers appeared in the QJE and Oxford Economic Papers in 1959.  A short note, co-authored with the present writer, was published online by the Journal of Global History earlier this year. Ron’s publication record thus spanned eight successive decades: a remarkable achievement, but not so remarkable to anyone fortunate enough to know the man.

Ron’s graduate classmate, Ronald Jones, is reported to have once said that all economics is either trade or history.[1] While Ron’s career was built on his effortless mastery of trade theory, he had an unparalleled knowledge of and interest in history, based on a lifetime of judicious reading. Indeed, his own life contained more history than is true for most of us. As a seven-year-old Anglo-Burmese boy he saw the first Japanese bombs fall on a post office across the road from where he lived; his family was compelled to flee the country, participating in the great trek out of Burma. Ron remembered one day running ahead of the rest of the group and spotting a British soldier, whose presence meant that they had finally made it to the comparative safety of India. The fugitives having been re-housed, Ron’s new teachers decided to see if he could cope with a well-known textbook of the time. But having mistaken the page number Ron read the copyright notice, rather than anything to do with Dick, Jane, or Spot. “The refugee boy can read”, was the verdict.

His subsequent academic career was predictably brilliant, with a BA from Rangoon University being followed by a PhD at MIT, where Ron studied under Bob Solow. “Solow was the older brother everyone wished they had had”, he once said, “while Samuelson was Zeus”. It was a golden generation on Mount Olympus: I will never forget the evening I spent sitting on a floor in Stockholm listening to the two Ronnies, Findlay and Jones, alongside Bob Mundell, swapping stories about their graduate years.

Ron returned home and taught in Rangoon, where he had the honour of being marched around a lake by Joan Robinson who had flown to Burma expressly to tell him how mistaken he was about capital. But it was probably inevitable that he should end up returning to the United States, where he was the Ragnar Nurske Professor of Economics at Columbia University for many years. Columbia was, and remains, a power-house in international economics, and Ron was central in achieving that.

And Columbia was where I met him as a young and fairly clueless assistant professor in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Like many other young people, no doubt, Ron took me under his wing with great generosity of spirit and kindness. I had decided to make the switch from international economics to economic history, but Ron had as much to teach me about the past as he did about trade and growth theory, and our frequent lunches with Mike Gavin were one of the highlights of my time there. Ron was an unforgettable presence in the seminar room, extemporizing with a piece of chalk and a blackboard. As others have said he was a genius at reducing general equilibrium models to their graphical essences in the most intuitive manner possible.

I will always be grateful to Mike Bordo, Alan Taylor, and Jeff Williamson, who in 1999 had the very good idea of putting together a conference on the history of globalization, insisting that each chapter be written by a two-person team: one an economic historian, the other a “regular economist”. I seized the opportunity to work with Ron, and over the next eight years we wrote first the chapter, and subsequently a book expanding on the theme. It was an intense and hugely enjoyable collaboration, and the eventual publication of the volume, while gratifying, left a void in my day-to-day life.

Ron had the wisdom and knowledge that comes with age, but retained a boyish enthusiasm and impishness that made him a joy to be with: the schoolboy was never very far from the surface. He was one of the most affirming people that I have ever met, and was not only admired and respected, but loved, by his many friends and colleagues. I am so very fortunate to have known him. He was devoted to Jane and the rest of his family, and my thoughts are with them today.

[1] That is to say, either theory or empirics.