Whose work are you watching?

Lawrence H. Summers is an American economist. He is the Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University, where he became one of the university's youngest tenured faculty at age 28.

The author of over 150 journal articles, Dr. Summers' wide-ranging contributions to economic research were recognized with the John Bates Clark Medal, given every two years to the outstanding American economist under the age of 40. He was also the first social scientist to receive the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award for outstanding scientific achievement.

Beyond his academic career, Dr. Summers has held a number of distinguished appointments in government. He previously served as Director of the National Economic Council for the Obama Administration, Secretary of the Treasury for the Clinton Administration, and Chief Economist of the World Bank.

Lawrence Summers received his S.B. from MIT and his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard. He and his wife Elisa New, a professor of English at Harvard, have six children.

  • Transcript


Lawrence Summers:  I think the kind of area, philanthropy, that has been opened up with global health and a bringing of rigorous analysis to those problems, is something that is profoundly important. I think the whole set of advances associated with behavioral economics and the recognition of the many different aspects of how people make decisions that go way beyond rationality, and that have implications for how options are priced. And some of the questions in behavioral finance that people have worked on, but have much more profound implications for the ways in which we can best educated people, the ways in which we can best support people, I think these are terribly, terribly important issues. I think the questions around how we’re going to help the societies that are falling furthest behind. There’s a range of very able people – Jeff Sachs – towards one end, in terms of a continuum of views, others who are doing very, very thoughtful work.

But you know, my approach in general in life is to try to engage with the issues rather than the particular individuals. And I think the second revolution that’s underway after the Industrial Revolution, with the rise of China and India, is profound than anything else that’s happening.

Recorded On: June 13, 2007