Famous all over the world, esteemed economics professor Jeffrey Sachs has always shown signs of genius; he became a tenured Harvard University professor at the young age of 28. Also a senior UN advisor, a bestselling author, and a columnist, he has been sought after by politicians and global leaders for his advice. Latin America, Eastern Europe-these are just some of the places that have benefitted from his expertise. Apart from economic stabilisation, Jeffrey Sachs has also concentrated his efforts towards environmental concerns, trying to eradicate poverty in Africa, designing a global fund to fight AIDS, and even establishing a brand new Ph.D. program on sustainable development, the first such program of its kind in the US. His work has garnered him multiple awards, honorary degrees, and he has even appeared twice on ‘Time’ Magazine’s '100 Most Influential People in the World'. Presently, Jeffrey Sachs is advisor to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres. He is also the Director of the 'UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network' and is co-editor of the 'World Happiness Report'.
Childhood & Early Life
Jeffrey Sachs was born into a Jewish family on November 5, 1954, in Detroit, Michigan, to Joan and Theodore Sachs.
He did his schooling from ‘Oak Park High School’. He got his BA from Harvard College in 1976 and went on to complete his M.A. in economics in 1978, and Ph.D. in 1980 from Harvard University. While he was still a graduate student, he was invited to join the Harvard Society of Fellows.
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Jeffrey Sachs spent over 20 years teaching at Harvard University, after starting there as an assistant professor in 1980.
He has been working towards reducing poverty in Africa since 1995, as a part of the ‘Millennium Villages Project (MVP)’. A 10-year plan to rehabilitate rural development across 10 different places in sub-Saharan African countries, this project officially ended in 2015. It had received many critical comments since its inception, owing to what many consider flawed methodology and lack of evidence to support the claims made.
During the period 2000-2001, he worked with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, designing and launching the 'The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria', while also chairing the 'WHO Commission on Macroeconomics and Health'.
The period 2002-2006 saw him chair the 'UN Millennium Project' on behalf of General Kofi Annan. After General Annan’s retirement, Jeffrey Sachs worked under United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
After his tenure at Harvard, Jeffrey Sachs served as the ‘Director of the Earth Institute of Columbia University’ from 2002-2016.
He held the 'Royal Professor Ungku Aziz Chair in Poverty Studies' at the 'Centre for Poverty and Development Studies', at the 'University of Malaya', in Malaysia, between the years 2007-2008. He was the first person in the world to do so.
The 'Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development', which aims to increase the importance of broadband in international policy, named Jeffrey Sachs as its commissioner in 2010.
Jeffery Sachs helped found a global consortium, called the ‘Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project’, in October 2013. This consortium was created to check the ill effects of global warming, by trying to cap the rise of global temperature due to global warming to 2°C or less.
He became the president of the 'Eastern Economic Association' in 2016; Jeffrey Sachs also received a two-year fellowship and an appointment to the Executive Board of the ‘Arnhold Institute’, at ‘Mount Sinai Health System’ during this period.
The author of three ‘New York Times’ bestselling books, 'The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time' (in 2005), 'Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet' (in 2008), and 'The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity' (in 2011), Jeffrey Sachs has written multiple other books and hundreds of academic articles. He has also written for leading dailies like the 'Financial Times', 'Time', and 'The Huffington Post'.
Currently, Jeffrey Sachs is a SDG Advocate, serving under UN secretary-general António Guterres. He is also the Director of 'UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network', and is named as co-editor of the 'World Happiness Report'.
Jeffrey Sachs holds an honorary professorship at the ‘Universidad del Pacifico’ in Peru, and has received multiple awards and honorary degrees from various universities, along with lecturing at numerous colleges globally. He has been an advisor to international organisations like the ‘International Monetary Fund (IMF)’, the ‘World Bank’, and a member of numerous other organisations and committees.
In April 2019, a federal lawsuit was filed against the ‘Arnhold Institute’ and ‘Mount Sinai’ for age and sex discrimination, as well as the then Director of the Institute, Dr. Prabhjot Singh.
This lawsuit alleged that Jeffrey Sachs helped Dr. Singh get this position at the Institute, and that Dr. Singh was also the author of a large part of Sachs’ books. The lawsuit further stated that as a ‘thank you’ for getting Dr. Singh into the Institute, Sachs was given a fellowship there, which was a part-time position, but with full-time benefits that amounted to $1 million per year.
Jeffrey Sachs economic policies see both supporters and naysayers, the strongest criticism coming from the likes of people like William Easterly, a professor of economics at New York University, and Nina Munk, an author who followed Sachs' efforts to aid Africa in her 2013 book, ‘The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty’; she wrote that Sachs' well intentioned projects still left the African people much worse-off than before.
Jeffrey Sachs is responsible for introducing one of the first Ph.D. programs of its kind in the US, a Ph.D. in sustainable development, at ‘Columbia University’ during his time there (2002-2016). He also put his weight behind another new degree, 'Masters of Development Practice (MDP)', which was soon picked up by many major universities around the world.
Named one of the '100 Most Influential People in the World' by the 'Time' Magazine twice (2004 & 2005), he has also appeared on the list of '500 Most Influential People in the Field of Foreign Policy', by the 'World Affairs Councils of America'.
The work he put in to address global environmental issues got him the ‘Blue Planet Prize’ in 2015. He was the co-recipient of this leading global prize, which is given for environmental leadership.
The very first 'World Sustainability Award' went to Jeffrey Sachs and his wife in 2017.
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Family & Personal Life
Jeffrey Sachs is married to pediatrician Sonia Ehrlich Sachs, and the couple lives in New York City. They have three children together, Lisa, Adam, and Hannah Sachs.
Jeffrey Sachs started taking college-level math classes by the time he was 13 years old.
He got tenure at Harvard University, in 1983, at the young age of 28.