It is with deep sadness and sorrow that we inform the University Citizens of the passing away of János Kornai, Széchenyi Prize-winning economist, member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Professor Emeritus of Harvard University and Corvinus University, holder of the French Legion of Honour, honorary member of the Swedish, American and other Academies. He was 94 years old.
The outstanding body of work of Professor János Kornai has had and continues to have a powerful influence on the world’s thinking regarding economics and social sciences. He has become a role model for generations of economists, his work and commitment to scientific understanding has been unique, moreover, his theories are considered from newer and newer perspectives in every era and are not losing their relevance.
The Corvinus University of Budapest considers its duty to undertake the tasks related to the burial of Professor Kornai.
The special issue of Public Choice was last published in the spring of 2021, which dealt entirely with the body of work of János Kornai. The online event was attended by people from all over the world, from the United States to Europe and Asia, who listened to world-renowned speakers, including Amartya Sen, a Nobel Prize-winning economist of Harvard University.
In 2018, in honour of János Kornai’s ninetieth birthday, the Corvinus University of Budapest organised a large scientific conference, where, among others, Olivier Blanchard, former Chief Economist of the IMF and Professor of the MIT, and Gérard Roland, one of the most important researchers concerning the economics of transition and Professor of the University of California, Berkeley, held a presentation.
In the 1980s, János Kornai became known worldwide for his book A hiány (The Deficit), which shed more light on the operational problems of socialist planned economies than any previous analysis.
János Kornai was born in 1928 in Budapest. He graduated from the University of Budapest. From 1947, he was the economic editor of the daily paper Szabad Nép (Free People) from 1947. In 1955, he became a Research Fellow at the Institute of Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. In 1966, he was awarded the title of Doctor of Economics. In 1976, he was elected a Corresponding Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and in 1982, he was elected a Full Member.
He has been invited as a visiting professor by several foreign universities: in 1966, the University of Sussex, in 1968 and 1973, the Stanford University in the United States, in 1970, the Yale, in 1972 and 1983, the Princeton, in 1976–1977, the Stockholm University, and in 1984–1985, the Harvard University. Between 1972 and 1977, he was the Vice Chairman of the Committee for Development Planning of the United Nations.
He worked as the Head of Department of the Institute of Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and was also a Professor at the Collegium Budapest, the Budapest University of Economics, and from 1986, at the Harvard University in the US. He was a member of the Economics Committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the editorial board of the journal Közgazdasági Szemle (Economics Review). He was elected a Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, the Royal Swedish Academy, the Finnish Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, and was elected an Honorary Doctor of the University of Torino.
He was mainly interested in the mathematical methods of planning, the economic application of mathematics and information technology, and the theory of the mechanism of economics. His works regarding economics have been translated to ten languages, including Anti-Equilibrium, which is also available in Japanese. His best-known work is A hiány (The Deficit), published in 1980.
Other important works: Overcentralization in Economic Administration, Mathematical Programming of Investments, Mathematical Planning of Structural Decisions, Anti-Equilibrium, Forced or Harmonious Growth, Growth, Deficit and Efficiency, Contradictions and Dilemmas, Bureaucratic Redistribution of Corporate Profits, Old and New Contradictions and Dilemmas, Passionate Pamphlet on Economic Transition, The Critical Economics of the Socialist System.
His autobiography was published in 2005, followed by the Japanese edition and, in early 2007, the English version. In 1983, he received the Hungarian State Prize and the German Alexander von Humboldt Prize for his work. In 1994, he received the Széchenyi Prize. In 1997, he was awarded the rank of Officer of the French Legion of Honour. He was elected an Honorary Doctor of the Stockholm School of Economics in 2001, the Varna University of Economics in 2003, and the Pan-European University in Bratislava in 2013. He received the Prima Primissima Prize in 2005. In 2007, he was awarded the Commander’s Cross with the Star of Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic. In 2007, he received the Academic Award, and in 2008, upon turning 80 years old, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Hungarian Economic Association. In 2009, he was given The Twenty Year Old Republic Award.
In 2010, he was awarded the Grand Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary for his body of work, and for his world-renowned achievements regarding the research into the theory and operation of economic systems. In 2018, he was elected an Honorary Member of the Széchenyi Academy of Literature and Art.
The memory of Professor Kornai will always stay with us. Our deepest condolences are with his family. May he rest in peace.
(Source: Hungarian News Agency)