Honorary Fellow Hans Linnemann passed away

Professor Hans Linnemann

With great sadness we announce the passing away of professor Hans Linnemann, former professor in Development Economics and Honorary Fellow at ISS. For many years professor Linnemann has been a source of inspiration for many students and scholars at ISS. Among them professors Hans Opschoor, Rolph van der Hoeven and Rob Vos. The latter wrote this In Memoriam.

ISS Honorary Fellow Professor Hans Linnemann passed away on May 6th, a day before his 85th birthday. He became ISS Honorary Fellow after a long and distinguished career as a development economist. He has always been close to ISS. He was a professor of development economics in the late 1960s. Also after he moved to the Free University Amsterdam, he continued giving lectures at ISS and was a mentor and PhD supervisor to quite a number of ISS lecturers and professors.

He was an inspired and inspiring scientist. Throughout his career he remained a pupil and true scholar in the tradition of Jan Tinbergen, the first Nobel laureate in economics and who also taught at ISS and among the very first ISS Honorary Fellows (1962). Like Tinbergen, Linnemann was a meticulous, quantitative economist. His PhD research on the gravity model in international trade continues to be influential and applied by many trade economists around the world. But he was also socially engaged and liked to quote Alfred Marshall, saying that scientists should have “cool heads but warm hearts”. At the root was his belief that a world polarized by extreme richness and abject poverty is intolerable. This inspired his work and those that worked with him. Today we have the sustainable development goals. In the 1970s, Hans Linnemann was the driving force behind a major research project on population growth and natural resource limits, seeking to answer the question whether the world could feed a world population double the size the world had back then. The research was a follow up to the Club of Rome’s “The Limits to Growth”. The book MOIRA – Model of International Relations in Agriculture (1979) continues to be a standard today, not only for students of world food problems, but also for model builders themselves. The title (in Dutch) of a popularized version was “Mensen tellen”, which means both “counting people” and “people count” in Dutch. The questions raised back then resound the ambitions of the sustainable development goals. If only his ideas were followed through earlier on.

People matter. That was always his focus as a scientist and human being. When his wife fell ill, he put taking care before his career. He also liked to keep a low profile for himself, but the appreciation for his work has come because of the power of his work. Aside from Honorary Fellow at ISS, he was also member of the prestigious Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences. He will be dearly missed but his work will continue to inspire.