Professor Orley Ashenfelter receives IZA Prize in Labor Economics 2003


Prestigious award goes to influential labor market expert

The IZA Prize in Labor Economics 2003 is awarded to one of the leading labor economists, Orley C. Ashenfelter [short biography], for his outstanding contributions to the field. IZA Director Klaus F. Zimmermann announced the decision of the IZA Prize Committee in Bonn on August 21, 2003. Among the members of the Committee are Nobel laureates George A. Akerlof, Gary S. Becker and James J. Heckman.

The official award ceremony will take place in Berlin on September 22, 2003, with a number of high-ranking guests from Germany and abroad. The Prize will be presented by Klaus Zumwinkel, CEO of Deutsche Post World Net and President of IZA.

Orley Ashenfelter is Professor of Economics at Princeton University, New Jersey. His intellectual work stands out due to his ingenuity in devising clever ways to derive and test hypotheses of economic models, his exceptional creativity in using and collecting data, and his originality in pioneering the natural experiment methodology. Ashenfelter’s scholarly contributions have fundamentally transformed the analysis of labor markets. In a number of seminal articles he has broken new ground in various core areas of labor economics including research on trade unions, wages and employment, the analysis of labor supply, and the study of discrimination, education and training.

Serving as the Director of the Office of Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Labor in 1972, Ashenfelter became the founding father of what has by today developed into the separate field of quantitative social program evaluation. During that time he pioneered a field of research that has become ever more important since the effects of government-sponsored labor market programs are increasingly called into question.

Ashenfelter’s influence on the development of economic science has been tremendous. Having served the labor economics community as former editor of the American Economic Review and co-editor of the Handbook of Labor Economics, Ashenfelter continues to take on important service responsibilities. Currently he is the President of the Society of Labor Economists (SOLE) and editor of the American Law and Economics Review. His scholarly contributions have made Orley Ashenfelter one of the most influential architects of modern labor economics. The IZA Prize in Labor Economics 2003 honors the work of an exceptional scholar who greatly shaped the advance of empirical labor market research.

Festive IZA Prize Award Ceremony in Berlin

Presenting the IZA Prize 2003:
Zimmermann, Zumwinkel, Ashenfelter, Card

Numerous German and international guests followed IZA's invitation to the festively furbished Museum of Communication in Berlin to witness the Official Award Ceremony for the IZA Prize in Labor Economics 2003, which went to the renowned American economist and labor market expert Orley Ashenfelter (Princeton University). Orley Ashenfelter received the award for his outstanding contributions to the field (view the Official Award Statement).

In his welcome address the CEO of Deutsche Post World Net and IZA President, Klaus Zumwinkel, stressed the need for a sweeping reform and modernization process in Germany. According to Zumwinkel, his company has been fulfilling its own obligations as one of the world's largest employers not only by sponsoring IZA, but also by providing a large number of apprenticeships each year.

IZA Director Klaus F. Zimmermann criticized the reluctance of German labor administration institutions to make data accessible for independent labor market research. Current labor market policies would require a systematic evaluation in order to implement targeted reforms where necessary.

In his laudation, David Card (University of California, Berkeley) honored Ashenfelter's groundbreaking contributions to the field of labor market research. He underlined Ashenfelter's crucial role in laying the foundation for modern evaluation research and his influence on a whole generation of labor market researchers.

IZA Laureate
Orley C. Ashenfelter

On the basis of his own research results, IZA Prize laureate Orley Ashenfelter showed the great benefits derived from an accurate analysis of labor market policy by means of evaluation research. The collection and analysis of data on participants in a labor market program as well as a comparable control group of non-participants provides crucial insights into the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of respective labor market policies.


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