Jeffrey Gale Williamson was a tenured faculty member of Harvard's Economics Department 1983-2008 for which he served as Chairman 1997-2000, and from which he twice received the Galbraith Prize for the best teacher in the graduate economics program. He was also Master of Harvard's Mather House from 1986 to 1993. He is now the Laird Bell Professor of Economics, emeritus, Honorary Fellow in the Department of Economics at the University of Wisconsin (Madison), Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and Research Fellow for the Center for Economic Policy Research. He is past-President of the Economic History Association (1994-1995), from whom he received the Hughes Prize for outstanding teaching in 2000.
Having retired from Harvard in July 2008, Professor Williamson continues to do research on economic history and the contemporary Third World. Some topics he has explored recently include: the growth and distributional implications of the demographic transition in Asia 1950-2025 and the Atlantic economy 1820-1940; the impact of international migration, capital flows and trade on factor price convergence in the greater Atlantic economy since 1830; the sources of globalization backlash before World War I; the causes of the cessation of convergence during the de-globalization years between 1914 and 1950; analysis of both the sources and consequences of the mass migrations prior to the 1920s and after the 1950s; and the economic implications of 1492. His four current research topics are: the evolution of world factor prices and living standards since 1790, involving the collection and analysis of data covering the OECD, eastern Europe, the Mediterranean Basin, Latin America, and Asia; the documentation and explanation of long run inequality trends over two milennia the world round; the exploration of economic change in the Third World since 1750, including debates over terms of trade, tariff policy, factor supply, de-industrialization, re-industrializaton, South-South mass migration, and the underlying economic-demographic fundamentals of growth; and the use of social tables to document the growth and distribution of American incomes since 1650.
Born and raised a Connecticut River Valley New Englander, Professor Williamson has been married to Nancy [Penfield] since 1958, the father of four children, and the grandfather of five. Upon retirement, he returned to Madison, Wisconsin (where he taught at the University of Wisconsin from 1963-1983). In the summer, he gathers with his family, works in his study, listens to the Red Sox on the screen porch, chops firewood, swims, kayaks, and builds woodland trails at his Maine cottage. He avoids the worst of Wisconain winters by spending a month or so enjoying sun, sand, and surf at his St. John (USVI) villa.