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Martin Weitzman

Martin Lawrence "Marty" Weitzman (born April 1, 1942) is a well-known economist and a Professor of Economics at Harvard University. He is among the most influential economists in the world according to IDEAS/RePEc. His current research is focused on environmental economics, specifically climate change and the economics of catastrophes.



Weitzman received a B.A. in Mathematics and Physics from Swarthmore College in 1963. He went on to receive an M.S. in Statistics and Operations Research from Stanford University in 1964, and then attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received a Ph.D. in Economics in 1967.


Weitzman's research has covered a wide range of topics including Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, Green Accounting, Economics of Biodiversity, Economics of Environmental Regulation, Economics of Climate Change, Discounting, Comparative Economic Systems, Economics of Profit Sharing, Economic Planning, and Microfoundations of Macro Theory.

Much of Weitzman's current research is focused on climate change. Traditional cost-benefit analysis of climate change looks at the costs of reducing global warming (the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions) versus the benefits (potentially stopping or slowing climate change). However, in most analyses, the damages that would stem from dramatic climate change are not taken into consideration. Weitzman has added dramatic climate change to the cost-benefit analysis to show that immediate measures must be taken in regards to climate change regulation.[1]

Weitzman's past research was focused on fixed versus profit sharing wages and their effect on unemployment. He proposed that when firms use profit sharing wages, meaning employees receive higher wages when a company is doing well, firms have lower rates of unemployment and do better during recessions.

Another topic of research that Weitzman is well known for is his study of price versus quantity controls. Weitzman proposed a theory that when faced with uncertainty the relative slopes of the marginal benefits versus the marginal costs must be examined in order to determine which type of control will be most effective. For example, in the case of pollution, the relative slopes of marginal costs and marginal damages must be examined (the marginal benefits are the avoidance of the marginal damages). His research showed that if the slope of marginal costs is steeper, price controls are more effective and if the relative slope of marginal damages is steeper, then quantity controls are more effective.


Weitzman has written two books: The Share Economy: Conquering Stagflation and Income, Wealth, and the Maximum Principal. In The Share Economy: Conquering Stagflation, Weitzman proposes that a main cause of stagflation is paying workers a fixed wage, regardless of how the company is performing. He introduces an alternate labor payment system as a way of combating stagflation. Income, Wealth, and the Maximum Principal is a book geared towards advanced economic students particularly those who want to be able to formulate and solve complex allocation problems and who are interested in the relationship between income accounting and wealth or welfare.


Weitzman began his teaching career in 1967 as an Assistant Professor of Economics at Yale University. Three years later Martin was promoted to be an Associate Professor and he remained in this position until 1972; at this time he joined the faculty at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972 still as an Associate Professor. In 1974, Weitzman became a Professor at MIT, where he taught until 1989. From 1986- 1989, Weitzman was recognized as a Mitsui Professor at MIT. In 1989, Martin Weitzman became an Ernest E. Monrad Professor of Economics at Harvard University and has remained in this position for the last 18 years. He currently teaches two graduate courses: Ec 2680 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics & Ec 2690 Environmental Economics and Policy Seminar.

Other Positions

Martin Weitzman serves as a consultant to The World Bank, Stanford Research Institute, International Monetary Fund, Agency for International Development, Arthur D. Little Co., Canadian Parliamentary Committee on Employment, Icelandic Committee on Natural Resources, National Academy Panel on Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting.

He also serves as Associate Editor of the following publications: Journal of Comparative Economics, Economic Letters, Journal of Japanese and International Economies, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management

Awards & recognitions

  • National Science Foundation Fellow, 1963 65
  • Woodrow Wilson Fellow, 1963 64
  • Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow, 1966
  • Guggenheim Fellow, 1970 71
  • Fellow of the Econometric Society, 1976 present
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1986 present
  • Association of Environmental and Resource Economists: Special Award for Publication

of Enduring Quality.

  • Keynote Speaker, 2002 World Congress of Environmental Economists
  • Keynote Speaker, 2006 World Congress of Animal Geneticists

Misdemeanor Charges

In 2005, Weitzman was arrested on misdemeanor charges based on a local farmer's allegation that Weitzman had stolen several truckloads of manure. Weitzman claimed that he had received permission, but he agreed to pay the farmer $600 in order to have the charges dismissed.[2]

Following his arrest he was stripped of his endowed chair at Harvard University.


Weitzman has published over 90 papers, many of which have appeared in Economics Journals. His 3 most recent papers are listed below.


External links

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