Guido Wilhelmus Imbens
3 September 1963
|Alma mater|| Erasmus University (BA)|
University of Hull (MSc)
Brown University (MA, PhD)
|Awards||Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2021)|
|Information at IDEAS / RePEc|
Guido Wilhelmus Imbens (born 3 September 1963) is a Dutch American economist. 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", with David Card awarded the other half.He has been Professor of Economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business at Stanford University since 2012.
Guido Wilhelmus Imbens was born on 3 September 1963 in Geldrop, Netherlands.In 1975 his family moved to Deurne, where he attended Peellandcollege . As a child, Imbens was an avid chess player. In a 2021 interview, Imbens connected his passion for econometrics to his childhood interest in the game.
Imbens graduated with a Candidate's degree (equivalent to a Bachelor's degree) in Econometrics from Erasmus University Rotterdam in 1983. He subsequently obtained an MSc degree with distinction in Economics and Econometrics from the University of Hull in Kingston upon Hull, UK in 1986.
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.Imbens received an AM and a PhD degree, both in Economics, from Brown in 1989 and 1991, respectively.
Imbens has taught at Harvard University (1990–97, 2006–12), Tilburg University (1989-1990), the University of California, Los Angeles (1997–2001), and the University of California, Berkeley (2002–06). He specializes in econometrics, which are particular methods for drawing causal inference.He became the editor of Econometrica in 2019 and will serve in that capacity until 2023. 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.
Imbens is a fellow of the Econometric Society (2001) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2009).Imbens was elected a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2020.
Working with fellow economists including Joshua Angrist and Alan Krueger, Imbens focused on developing methodologies and frameworks that help economists use real-life situations, known as natural experiments, to test real life theories. Specifically, through his study he helped analyze causal relationships. Some of the problem statements analyzed through his study included the impact of college education or additional years of education on earnings.His frameworks for causal relationships study found use in multiple other fields including social and biomedical sciences. His work has provided researchers across disciplines with tools to understand the limitation of real-world experiments improving their ability to better understand the effects of field and experimental data based interventions. The methodologies have been useful for researchers to analyze research problems as diverse as studying the impact of new regulations on economic activity and on new drug effectiveness on patients.
In one of his earliest collaborations with Angrist, Imbens introduced a model called Local Average Treatment Effect (LATE) that helped researches to draw causal inference from observational data. Elaborating on the model in a Econometrica paper in 1994 titled "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects", the pair employed the idea of natural experiment s, which were real world events and situations as against controlled conditions to study the effects of key changes. In doing so, the pair took advantage of the role chance and randomization that naturally occurred in the real world rather than controlled simulations, which could be expensive, time-consuming, or even unethical.The paper and the model had significant impact on other research efforts across econometrics, statistics and other fields.
In one of the real-world applications of the model that would have implications for policymakers, Imben 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. 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. The group found that while there was some impact on labor supply, it did not change how much people worked by much.
Some of his work was summarized in a book co-written with American statistician Donald B. Rubin, Causal Inference for Statistics, Social, and Biomedical Sciences.
More recently, he (along with Prof. Susan Athey) has been working on using machine learning methods, particularly modifications to random forests called causal foreststo estimate heterogeneous treatment effects in causal inference models.
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.In its press release announcing the winners, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences stated "[t]his year’s Laureates – David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens 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."
Imbens has been married to economist Susan Athey since 2002.The best man at his wedding was Joshua Angrist, with whom he would share the Nobel prize 19 years later.
He holds dual citizenship in the United States and Netherlands.
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Angrist served as the best man at Imbens’ wedding to Susan Athey, who is also an economist at Stanford.
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