Nicholas Eberstadt

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Nicholas Eberstadt
Born (1955-12-20) December 20, 1955 (age 58)
School or tradition Demographics, Economics
Main interests Russia and other former Soviet republics; poverty; North and South Korea; Global health, infant mortality, and HIV/AIDS; foreign aid; economic development policy

Nicholas Eberstadt (born 1955) is a political economist who holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is also a Senior Adviser to the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), a member of the visiting committee at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a member of the Global Leadership Council at the World Economic Forum. Eberstadt has written many books and articles on political and economic issues, including demographics and the political situation of North Korea.[1][2][3] He has consulted for governmental and international organizations, the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. State Department, USAID, and World Bank, and has often been invited to offer expert testimony before Congress.[4]

Education and personal life[edit]

Eberstadt grew up in Manhattan. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1972. He then earned his A.B. magna cum laude in Economics from Harvard College in 1976, and his M.Sc. in Social Planning for Developing Countries from the London School of Economics in 1978. He completed his M.P.A. at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in 1979, and his Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government at Harvard University in 1995. He is married to Mary Eberstadt of the Hoover Institution. He, his wife, and their four children live in Washington, DC.


As an expert in the international policy sphere, Eberstadt has had a diverse career in research, teaching, writing, advising, and consulting.

He was a teaching fellow at Harvard University from 1976 to 1979, instructing courses in population and natural resources, agricultural economics, social science and social policy, and problems of policy making in less developed countries. He was a visiting research fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation from 1979 to 1980, meanwhile serving as an associate of Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. From 1980 to 2002, Eberstadt was a visiting fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Eberstadt joined his current institution, the American Enterprise Institute, as a visiting fellow in 1985. He assumed the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy and became a resident fellow in 1999.

From 1988 to 1990, Eberstadt served as an adviser to the Catholic University Institute on Health and Development. In 1999 he was a visiting fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle. Eberstadt was awarded the Bosch Fellowship in Public Policy in 2008, from the American Academy in Berlin.[5]

Eberstadt has also worked in numerous non-academic capacities. Recently, these include positions on the President's Commission on Bioethics (2006-2009) and the Presidential HELP Commission (2005- 2008). From 2003 to present, he has been a member of Public Interest Magazine's Publication Committee, the Overseers‘ Committee to Visit the Harvard School of Public Health, the National Center for Health Statistics Board of Scientific Counselors, and the U.S.–China AIDS Foundation's Advisory Board. He is a founding member of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, and the Commissioner of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Global Aging Initiative.


Eberstadt analyzes international issues through the lenses of demography and political economy. Recently, his contributions on Russia and North Korea have proven particularly relevant.

In 2011, his article “The Dying Bear: Russia’s Demographic Disaster” appeared in Foreign Affairs. This article’s publication coincided with the 20th anniversary of the end of Soviet dictatorship. It details Russia’s catastrophic demographic decline in the intervening years, explaining that “Post-Soviet Russia has become a net mortality society, steadily registering more deaths than births.”[6] Data shows that rising mortality is due to “an explosion in deaths from cardiovascular disease and what epidemiologists call ‘external causes,’ such as poisoning, injury, suicide, homicide, traffic fatalities, and other violent accidents.” Eberstadt observes that this mortality rate is truly unusual for a literate, urbanized society in peacetime. He draws connections to mental health, education, and family issues. While Russia’s natural resources abound, its human resources are thus deteriorating. Eberstadt warns of economic and military repercussion for Russia. The nation’s per capita output remains stagnant, and its economy faces the burden of a huge aging population. Foreign policy decisions risk becoming brash, as “Russia’s military leaders, aware of their deficiencies in both manpower and advanced technology… lower the threshold at which they might consider using nuclear weapons in moments of crisis.” This article summarizes the findings of Eberstadt’s extensive NBR Project Report entitled “Russia’s Peacetime Demographic Crisis: Dimensions, Causes, Implications.” Part I of this report details the demographics of Russia’s “depopulation,” exploring fertility, family formation, poor health, early death, and migration phenomenon. Part II addresses the human resources aspect of the demographic crisis, specifically in Russian education, labor productivity, and social capital.

Some of Eberstadt’s most recent insight on the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK or North Korea) appears in his AEI working paper “Western Aid: The Missing Link for North Korea‘s Economic Revival?” He explains the DPRK’s current plans for economic growth, and addresses whether or not large quantities of foreign aid can be effective in DPRK development. In spite of decades of abysmal economic performance, the DPRK plans to join the ranks of the “advanced countries” by 2020.[7] An estimated $100 billion of new investment is anticipated, in the forms of foreign private capital and foreign aid. This is reminiscent of the aid and investment that jump-started South Korea’s rapid, post-war development. However, the DPRK’s unique political economy “regime logic” impedes this type of success. This logic is characterized by cultural and ideological infiltration, military-first politics, and quest for unconditional Korean reunification. Today, a foreign discourse on aid for North Korea may be reenergized. However, Eberstadt concludes that Western aid has a poor track record of instigating positive change, and will most likely lead to the maintenance of status quo poverty and repression, and unwelcome augmentation of North Korea’s military capabilities.




  1. ^ Klein, Kent (2009-04-02). "Experts Explain Why North Korea Wants To Conduct Long-Range Missile Test". Voice Of America News. Retrieved 2011-09-08. 
  2. ^ Eberstadt, Nicholas (2009-04-06). "Kim's Crumbling Dynasty". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2011-09-08. 
  3. ^ Lawson, Dominic (2009-03-29). "Enough, population doom merchants". London: The Times. Retrieved 2011-09-08. 
  4. ^ "Eberstadt Biography". Global Agricultural Development Initiative. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  5. ^ "Nicholas Eberstadt CV". American Enterprise Institute. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  6. ^ Eberstadt, Nicholas (2 November 2011). "The Dying Bear: Russia's Demographic Disaster". Foreign Affairs. 6 90: 95–108. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  7. ^ Eberstadt, Nicholas. "Western Aid: The Missing Link for North Korea's Economic Revival?". AEI Working Paper. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 

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