Professor Drèze graduated in Economics and in Business at the University of Liège in 1951. He obtained his PhD in Economics at Columbia University in 1958. As CRB Graduate Fellow from 1952 to 1954, he visited several US universities (Columbia, Harvard, Chicago and Michigan). He was Visiting Assistant Professor at Carnegie (1957-58) and joined the Université Catholique de Louvain in 1958. He was the Andrew D. White Professor at Large at Cornell University from 1971 to 1977. Drèze was also the first President of the European Economic Association in 1986 and the President of the Econometric Society in 1970.
Furthermore, Drèze was a member or associate of several Academies, namely the Belgian Royal Academy, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, Academia Europaea, the National Academy of Sciences in Washington.
The contribution of such a great economist and great humanist, both on the scientific front and on the institutional and policy front, has been well recognised by many honours worldwide. He has received 19 honorary doctorates, 17 from European universities, one from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and one from the University of Chicago.
Two long-time colleagues from the Université Catholique de Louvain, Professor Claude d’Aspremont and Emeritus Professor Pierre Dehez, who worked extensively with Professor Drèze, pay tribute to him:
"For us, who had the chance to spend our career, or part of it, at the Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) created at his initiative in 1966, Jacques was a model and a guide with a clear view, a fantastic teacher and a devoted adviser. Many, in many places, have benefitted from Jacques' immense knowledge in economics and from his permanent support, both scientific and personal. He was a beautiful mind and a beautiful heart; a beautiful mind, essentially motivated by the project of unifying economics and its related fields, using quantitative methods, looking for the macroeconomic implications of microeconomics, developing econometric tools and applications for economic policy; a beautiful heart, deeply concerned by human well-being and the disadvantaged, as exemplified by his work on the value of life, on labour management, on public good provision, on unemployment in Europe and on the Third World debt. He was also concerned by the well-functioning of institutions, such as the future of the university, or the role of the EU for economic and social security. CORE and its prestigious visitors’ program, thanks initially to the support from the Ford foundation, was his initiative as well as the European Doctoral Program in Quantitative Economics (EDP).
The contributions of Jacques Drèze are exceptional not only by their number, and their innovative and path-breaking character, but also by their diversity. Interestingly this diversity, well spelled out in his 1971 presidential address to the Econometric Society, corresponds to the initial research program of CORE and to the different fields investigated by its members. But, for Professor Drèze this diversity is mainly apparent and can be explained by two objectives which underly all his work: the extension to uncertainty of economic models (for real world relevance) and their integration into a general equilibrium theory (for a unified conceptual approach). Even papers that seem more distant from these objectives, such as his seminal work on “tâtonnement processes”, or his work on Game Theory (mainly with Robert Aumann) and his work on Dynamic Programming, have been integrated in his overall project.
[…] Our affectionate thoughts go to his family and in particular to his sons and to Monique who shared all along his values and his efforts. Monique and Jacques formed a perfect team, on the ground and on the sea.
We miss him immensely."
Jacques Drèze passed away on 25 September 2022 in his birthplace of Verviers, Belgium. The EUI community mourns the loss of Professor Drèze and holds the memory of his great contribution to the field of economics.
Read the full in memoriam.
Photo credit: Barcelona School of Economics (BSE)