Jan Tinbergen: The Thinker


Jan Tinbergen has contributed to economics and policy-making in many different ways. But what kind of a thinker was he? Are there unifying philosophical commitments to the different aspects of his work? This project will investigate these questions and showcase a new perspective on Jan Tinbergen, the thinker.

Jan Tinbergen

Jan Tinbergen is one of the most important scientists in the rich history of the EUR. He was awarded the first Nobel Prize in economic sciences in 1969. The year 2019 is the “Year of Tinbergen” in which the 50th anniversary of this award is celebrated. Most well known for his Nobel prize winning work on econometrics, he also made crucial contributions to economic policy at the CPB, many international organisations, and development work. He was instrumental in the creation of the modern notion of the ‘economic expert’. Moreover, Tinbergen also had outspoken and active ethical views. He was driven by socialist values, and investigated many problems that have important ethical import. We will uncover his philosophical commitments, thereby improving our understanding of the depth of his impact.

EIPE and the philosophy of economics

We will approach Jan Tinbergen’s work from the perspective of the “philosophy of economics”. This is an emerging research field that investigates ethical, methodological and conceptual questions about economics. The EUR has a longstanding tradition of distinguished research in philosophy of economics, as the Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE), founded in 1997, has played a major role in shaping the field. We will investigate Jan Tinbergen’s work through the lens of research from this field. 


Dr. Constanze Binder, Dr. Erwin Dekker, Dr. Conrad Heilmann, Prof.dr. Jack Vromen

We are hiring a postdoctoral researcher/lecturer for this project! Click here for more information.

Advisory Board 

Prof. dr. Philip Hans Franses (Erasmus School of Economics), Prof. dr. Roger Backhouse (Birmingham and Erasmus University Rotterdam), Prof. dr. Marcel Boumans (Utrecht School of Economics), Mary Morgan (London School of Economics)


The project is supported by ESPhil, EIPE, ESE, Erasmus Initiative “Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity” and the Erasmus Trustfunds.