Guido Imbens

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Guido Imbens
Guido Imbens Lemley Lecture 1.jpg
Imbens in 2022
Born
Guido Wilhelmus Imbens

(1963-09-03) 3 September 1963 (age 59)
Geldrop, Netherlands
Nationality
  • Dutch
  • American
[1]
SpouseSusan Athey
InstitutionStanford University
FieldEconometrics
Alma materErasmus University (BA)
University of Hull (MSc)
Brown University (MA, PhD)
Doctoral
advisor
Anthony Lancaster
Doctoral
students
Rajeev Dehejia
AwardsNobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2021)
Information at IDEAS / RePEc
Academic background
ThesisTwo essays in econometrics (1991)

Guido Wilhelmus Imbens (born 3 September 1963) is a Dutch-American economist whose research concerns econometrics and statistics. He holds the Applied Econometrics Professorship in Economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, where he has taught since 2012.[1]

In 2021, Imbens was awarded half of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences jointly with Joshua Angrist "for their methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships."[2][3] Their work focused on natural experiments, which can offer empirical data in contexts where controlled experimentation may be expensive, time-consuming, or unethical.[4] In 1994 Imbens and Angrist introduced the local average treatment effect (LATE) framework, an influential mathematical methodology for reliably inferring causation from natural experiments that accounted for and defined the limitations of such inferences.[5][6][7] Imbens' work with Angrist, together with the work of co-recipient David Card, is credited with catalyzing the "credibility revolution" in empirical microeconomics.[6][8]

Early life and education[edit]

Guido Wilhelmus Imbens was born on 3 September 1963 in Geldrop, the Netherlands.[9][10] As a child, Imbens was an avid chess player.[11] In a 2021 interview, Imbens connected his passion for econometrics to his childhood interest in the game.[12]

In high school Imbens was introduced to the work of Dutch economist Jan Tinbergen. Influenced by Tinbergen's work, Imbens chose to study economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam, where Tinbergen had taught and established a program in economics.[13] Imbens graduated with a Candidate's degree in Econometrics from Erasmus University Rotterdam in 1983. He subsequently obtained an M.Sc. degree with distinction in Economics and Econometrics from the University of Hull in Kingston upon Hull, UK in 1986.[1]

In 1986, one of Imbens' mentors at the University of Hull, Anthony Lancaster, moved to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Imbens followed Lancaster to Brown to pursue further graduate and doctoral studies.[14] Imbens received an A.M. and a Ph.D. degree in Economics from Brown in 1989 and 1991, respectively.[15][1][16]

The Department of Economics at Brown University

Career[edit]

Imbens has taught at Tilburg University (1989-1990), Harvard University (1990–97, 2007–12), the University of California, Los Angeles (1997–2001), and the University of California, Berkeley (2001–07). He specializes in econometrics, which are particular methods for drawing causal inference.[1] He became the editor of Econometrica in 2019, with his term anticipated (as of 2022) to end in 2025.[17] As of 2021, he is a professor of applied econometrics and economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) and a professor of economics at the institute's School of Humanities and Sciences.[18]

The Stanford Graduate School of Business, where Imbens has taught since 2012

Imbens is a fellow of the Econometric Society (2001) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2009).[1][19][20] Imbens was elected to the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences as a foreign member in 2017.[21][22] He was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2020.[23]

Econometrics and work on causal relationships[edit]

Working with fellow economists including Joshua Angrist and Alan Krueger, Imbens focused on developing methodologies and frameworks that help economists use a kind of real-life situations known as natural experiments to test hypotheses about causal relationships, such as the impact of additional years of school education on earnings.[24] His frameworks for causal relationships study found use in multiple other fields including social and biomedical sciences.[25] It provided researchers with tools to understand the limitations of real-world experiments, improving their ability to better understand the effects of field and experimental data based interventions.[18]

In one of his earliest collaborations with Angrist, Imbens introduced a concept called Local Average Treatment Effect (LATE) to draw causal inference from observational data. In a 1994 Econometrica paper titled "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects", the pair employed the idea of natural experiments, where one studies the effects of key changes by using chance and randomization that naturally occur in the real world, instead of controlled conditions, which can be expensive, time-consuming, or even unethical.[5][18] The paper and the model had significant impact on other research efforts across econometrics, statistics and other fields.[6][8]

In one of the real-world applications of the model that would have implications for policymakers, Imbens partnered with statistician Donald Rubin and economist Bruce Sacerdote to study the impact of unearned earnings on labor supply. The group studied the implications of policy interventions such as Universal Basic Income or other federal and state wage assistance programs on citizens' willingness to participate in the labor force and the eventual impact on labor supply.[26] To devise a natural experiment, the group studied the winners of the Massachusetts state lottery where the winners were paid incrementally over many years as opposed to a lump-sum payment. In doing so, the group was able to study the causal effects of guaranteed income. They found that winning the lottery had only a small impact on how much people worked. Winners of $80,000 a year for 20 years reduced their working hours somewhat, but winners of $15,000 a year for 20 years did not. Among unemployed persons who played the lottery, winners worked more than non-winners in the six years after playing.[18][27]

Some of Imbens' work was summarized in a 2015 book co-written with American statistician Donald B. Rubin, Causal Inference for Statistics, Social, and Biomedical Sciences.[25]

Around 2016, he (along with his wife Susan Athey) worked on using machine learning methods, particularly modifications to random forests called causal forests, to estimate heterogeneous treatment effects in causal inference models.[28][29]

Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics[edit]

Imbens speaking at Brown University in March 2022

Imbens received the 2021 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences along with fellow economists David Card and Joshua Angrist for their contributions toward methodologies for the analysis of causal relationships.[30] In its press release, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences stated that they "have provided us with new insights about the labour market and shown what conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn from natural experiments. Their approach has spread to other fields and revolutionised empirical research."[31]

Personal life[edit]

Imbens has been married to fellow economist Susan Athey since 2002.[32] Athey likewise teaches at the Stanford Graduate School of Business where she holds the Economics of Technology Professorship.[33] The best man at Imbens and Athey's wedding was Joshua Angrist, with whom Imbens would share the Nobel prize 19 years later.[34]

He holds dual citizenship in the United States and the Netherlands.[1]

Honors and awards[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • (with Lisa M. Lynch) Re-employment probabilities over the business cycle. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1993.
  • (with Richard H. Spady and Philip Johnson) Information Theoretic Approaches to Inference in Moment Condition Models. Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1995.
  • (with Gary Chamberlain) Nonparametric applications of Bayesian inference. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1996.
  • (with Donald B. Rubin and Bruce Sacerdote) Estimating the effect of unearned income on labor supply, earnings, savings, and consumption : evidence from a survey of lottery players. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1999.
  • (with V. Joseph Hotz and Jacob Alex Klerman) The long-term gains from GAIN : a re-analysis of the impacts of the California GAIN Program. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2000.
  • (with Thomas Lemieux) Regression discontinuity designs: a guide to practice. Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2007.
  • (with Jeffrey M. Wooldridge) Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation. Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2008.
  • (with Karthik Kalyanaraman) Optimal bandwidth choice for the regression discontinuity estimator. Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2009.
  • (with Alberto Abadie) A martingale representation for matching estimators. Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2009.
  • Imbens, Guido W.; Rubin, Donald B. (6 April 2015). Causal Inference for Statistics, Social, and Biomedical Sciences: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521885881.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "The Vita of Guido Wilhelmus Imbens" (PDF). Stanford Graduate School of Business website. September 2013. Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 October 2021. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  2. ^ "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2021". nobelprize.org. 11 October 2021. Archived from the original on 11 October 2021.
  3. ^ Smialek, Jeanna (11 October 2021). "The Nobel in economics goes to three who find experiments in real life". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 11 October 2021. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  4. ^ "Guido Imbens | Biography, Nobel Prize, Economics, Causal Inference, & Facts | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  5. ^ a b D., Angrist, Joshua. Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects. OCLC 1144555780.
  6. ^ a b c Ball, Philip (13 October 2021). "Nobel-winning 'natural experiments' approach made economics more robust". Nature. doi:10.1038/d41586-021-02799-7. PMID 34646027. S2CID 238859830.
  7. ^ The Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel (11 October 2021). "Answering causal questions using observational data. Scientific Background on the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2021" (PDF).
  8. ^ a b "A Nobel prize for an economics revolution : The Indicator from Planet Money". NPR.org. Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  9. ^ "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2021". NobelPrize.org. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  10. ^ Haegens, Koen (11 October 2021). "Nobelprijs voor 'stille en bescheiden man achterin de zaal' die de slimste vragen stelt". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  11. ^ Linders, Twan; Broers, Daphne (11 October 2020). "'Bedachtzame slimmerik' zat in Deurne op school en is nu winnaar van de Nobelprijs". Eindhovens Dagblad. Retrieved 11 October 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2021". NobelPrize.org. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  13. ^ Imbens, Guido (2 March 2022). Lemley Lecture: Nobel Prize Winner Guido Imbens. Event occurs at 20:55.
  14. ^ Irel, Corydon; Office, Harvard News (15 March 2007). "Bringing hard science to economics". Harvard Gazette. Archived from the original on 14 August 2021. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  15. ^ Imbens, Guido Wilhelmus (1991). Two essays in econometrics (Ph.D. thesis). Brown University. OCLC 26957442. ProQuest 303881903.
  16. ^ "Guido Imbens, 1991 Brown Ph.D. recipient, is 2016 – 17 Horace Mann Medal winner". Brown University Department of Economics website. 22 May 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  17. ^ "Editorial Board | The Econometric Society". www.econometricsociety.org. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  18. ^ a b c d University, Stanford (11 October 2021). "Guido Imbens wins Nobel in economic sciences". Stanford News. Archived from the original on 12 October 2021. Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  19. ^ "Econometric Society Fellows, October 2016". Econometric Society. Archived from the original on 7 July 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  20. ^ "List of active members by class" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 27 October 2016. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 July 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  21. ^ "KNAW kiest 26 nieuwe leden" (in Dutch). Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. 10 May 2017. Archived from the original on 25 May 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  22. ^ "Guido Imbens". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 14 May 2017.
  23. ^ "ASA Fellows list". American Statistical Association. Archived from the original on 21 May 2020. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  24. ^ Smialek, Jeanna (11 October 2021). "The Nobel in economics goes to three who find experiments in real life". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 11 October 2021. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  25. ^ a b Imbens, Guido W.; Rubin, Donald B. (2015). Causal Inference for Statistics, Social, and Biomedical Sciences: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-88588-1.
  26. ^ Imbens, Guido W.; Rubin, Donald B.; Sacerdote, Bruce I. (1 September 2001). "Estimating the Effect of Unearned Income on Labor Earnings, Savings, and Consumption: Evidence from a Survey of Lottery Players". American Economic Review. 91 (4): 778–794. doi:10.1257/aer.91.4.778. ISSN 0002-8282. S2CID 54853860. Archived from the original on 4 May 2021. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  27. ^ Imbens, Guido W.; Rubin, Donald B.; Sacerdote, Bruce (March 1999). "Estimating the Effect of Unearned Income on Labor Supply, Earnings, Savings, and Consumption: Evidence from a Survey of Lottery Players". National Bureau of Economic Research Working Papers: 2.
  28. ^ Athey, Susan; Imbens, Guido; Kong; Ramachandra, Vikas (6 September 2016). "An Introduction to Recursive Partitioning for Heterogeneous Causal Effects Estimation Using causalTree package" (PDF). GitHub.
  29. ^ Athey, Susan; Imbens, Guido (5 July 2016). "Recursive partitioning for heterogeneous causal effects". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 113 (27): 7353–7360. arXiv:1504.01132. Bibcode:2016PNAS..113.7353A. doi:10.1073/pnas.1510489113. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 4941430. PMID 27382149.
  30. ^ "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2021". NobelPrize.org. Archived from the original on 11 October 2021. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  31. ^ "The Prize in Economic Sciences 2021" (PDF) (Press release). Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. 11 October 2021. Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 October 2021. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  32. ^ Simison, Bob (June 2019). "Economist as Engineer". Finance & Development. International Monetary Fund. 56 (2). Archived from the original on 30 July 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  33. ^ "Susan Athey". Stanford Graduate School of Business. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  34. ^ De Witte, Melissa; Than, Ker (11 October 2021). "Guido Imbens wins Nobel in economic sciences". Stanford University. Archived from the original on 11 October 2021. Retrieved 11 October 2021. Angrist served as the best man at Imbens' wedding to Susan Athey, who is also an economist at Stanford.
  35. ^ "Graduate School Honors Econometrician | Graduate School". www.brown.edu. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  36. ^ "Pelosi, Shaggy, Berkley to receive honorary degrees". The Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved 31 May 2022.

External links[edit]