Simon Kuznets

Simon Kuznets

Belarusian-American economist, statistician, demographer and economic historian
Date of Birth: 30.04.1901
Country: USA

Biography of Simon Kuznets

Simon Kuznets was a Belarusian-American economist, statistician, demographer, and economic historian. He was born on April 30, 1901, in Pinsk, which is now a part of Belarus, into a Jewish merchant family. In the 1900s, Kuznets and his family moved to Rovno, where he attended the local high school. In 1915, due to the war, the Kuznets family had to relocate to Kharkov, and after completing school, Simon continued his education at Kharkov University.

Simon Kuznets

At the university, Kuznets studied economics and became interested in the theory of economic cycles by Joseph Schumpeter. He enrolled in the Kharkov Institute of Commerce in 1918, where he was mentored by prominent scholars such as P. Fomin, A. Antsiferov, V. Levitsky, and V. Davats. The academic courses at the university helped Kuznets acquire extensive knowledge in economics, history, demography, statistics, and natural sciences.

Simon Kuznets

In 1921, Simon became a statistician at the Labor Department of the South Bureau of the All-Russian Central Council. It was here that he published his first work, "Money Wages of Workers and Employees of the Factory and Plant Industry in Kharkov in 1920," which examined the dynamics of various forms of wage payments in relation to different industrial sectors in Kharkov. In the same work, Kuznets explored wage payment systems and studied income differentiation.

In 1922, Simon and his brother Solomon emigrated to the United States, settling in New York City. Simon obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Columbia University in 1923, a Master's degree in 1924, and a Ph.D. in 1926. His Master's thesis, written while he was still in Kharkov, was titled "The Economic System of Dr. Schumpeter: Presentation and Critique." His work at the Social Science Research Council from 1925 to 1926 resulted in the book "Secular Movements in Production and Prices," which he defended as his doctoral dissertation and published in 1930.

In 1927, Simon joined the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), where he remained until 1961. From 1931 to 1936, he taught part-time at the University of Pennsylvania, and then transitioned to a full-time position until 1954. Kuznets subsequently taught political economy at Johns Hopkins University until 1960. After officially retiring, he lectured at Harvard from 1961 to 1970.

Simon's brother Solomon was an economist, statistician, and a collaborator of Edwin Seligman, a renowned tax expert. Another brother, George "Grisha" Kuznets, was an economist and psychologist who taught at the University of California, Berkeley.

Simon Kuznets' wife, economist Edith Handler, gave birth to their son Paul and daughter Judith. Simon Kuznets passed away on July 8, 1985, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.