Robert Mundell Biography

(Canadian Economist and Winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences)

Birthday: October 24, 1932 (Scorpio)

Born In: Kingston, Canada

Robert Mundell was a Canadian economist who received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for developing the theory of optimal currency areas in the modern world. He is regarded as the godfather of the ‘Euro’ currency used in the European Union. Though he received the Nobel Prize much later, during the 1960s, he predicted the future development of capital markets and international monetary systems around the world. His prophecy on future monetary systems impressed the ‘Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ much before he received the prize. He derived a large number of observations after analyzing his highly technical mathematical formulations which changed the concept of ‘open economy’. Though most of his work has been welcomed by the economists all over the world, some of his advocated policies such as creation of a global currency, returning to the gold standard and others, are yet to be embraced by a large number of his peers. Many economists and international monetary organizations like IMF still do not relate with his idea of ‘supply side’ tax cuts, and the advice that he gave to China on its exchange rate regime. He was the first economist who studied the effect of floating exchange rates. He also contributed to the ‘Mundell-Fleming Theory’ and the ‘Mundell-Tobin Theory’.

Quick Facts

Canadian Celebrities Born In October

Also Known As: Robert Alexander Mundell

Died At Age: 88


Spouse/Ex-: Valerie Mundell

Born Country: Canada

Economists Canadian Men

Died on: April 4, 2021

place of death: Siena, Italy

Notable Alumni: London School Of Economics

Cause of Death: Cholangiocarcinoma

More Facts

education: Massachusetts Institute Of Technology, University Of Washington, London School Of Economics

awards: Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics (1999)

Childhood & Early Life

Robert Mundell was born as Robert Alexander Mundell in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, on October 24, 1932.

He started his academic life in a school which was located in a single room.
After passing out from school he joined the ‘University of British Columbia’ in Vancouver from where he earned his B. A. degree in economics and Slavonic studies in 1953.
He studied at the ‘University of Washington’ in Seattle and then at the ‘Massachusetts Institute of Technology’ to complete his graduate studies. He obtained his M. A. degree in economics in 1954.
He completed his PhD at the ‘London School of Economics’ in 1956 under the supervision of James Meade.
He joined the ‘University of Chicago’ to complete one year of post-doctoral studies on political economy.
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After completing his post doctoral studies, Robert Mundell taught economics at the ‘University of British Columbia’, the ‘Stanford University’ and the ‘John Hopkins Bologna Center of Advanced International Studies’ in Italy for the next few years.

In 1960, he published an article that introduced a model of an economy dominated by the market for goods and services on one side and the market for foreign exchange on the other which was the first of its kind regarding the concept of macroeconomics.

His lectures and papers on international trade, optimum currency areas, and the trade-offs on fiscal and monetary policies under fixed and floating exchange rates attracted the attention of Jaques Polak, head of IMF’ Research Department, who offered Mundell a job at IMF in 1961.

In a world where studying floating exchange rates were a ‘taboo’, Mundell’s first job was to find a mix of monetary and fiscal policies.

During his stay at IMF from 1961 to 1963, he also worked on the theory of inflation and showed that an increase in expected inflation can raise the interest rate by a lesser margin contrary to the theories of Abba Lerner and Irving Fisher which came to be known as the ‘Mundell-Tobin effect’ later.

He was the first ‘Rockefeller Research Professor of International Economics’ at the ‘Brookings Institution’ from 1964 to 1965.

From 1964 to 1978, he was a member of the ‘Bellagio-Princeton Study Group for International Monetary Reform’.

He became the ‘Ford Foundation Research Professor of Economics’ at the ‘University of Chicago’ from 1965 to 1966.
He was a Professor of Economics at the ‘University of Chicago’ from 1966 to 1971. During this time he served as the editor of the ‘Journal of Political Economy’.
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In 1970, Mundell was appointed as a consultant to the ‘Monetary Committee’ of the ‘European Economic Commission’.

He was the Chairman of the ‘Santa Colomba Conferences on International Monetary Reform’.

From 1972 to 1973, he was a member of the ‘Study Group on Economic and Monetary Union in Europe’ under the ‘European Economic Commission’.

Mundell joined the faculty of the ‘Columbia University’ in New York City in 1974. He became a professor in 2001.
He taught at the ‘Graduate Institute of International Studies’ in Geneva, Switzerland during every summer from 1965 to 1975.
He was the ‘AGIP professor of Economics’ at the ‘Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies’ under the ‘John Hopkins Bologna Center’ from 1997 to 1998.
He was made the ‘Annenberg Professor of Communications’ at the ‘University of Southern California’ in 1980.

Mundell was the ‘Repap Professor of Economics’ at the ‘McGill University’ from 1989 to 1990, and the ‘Richard Fox Professor of Economics’ at the ‘University of Pennsylvania’ from 1990 to 1991.

He served as an adviser to the United States government during Ronald Reagan’s presidency and also to many other governments in Latin America and Europe.
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He also worked for the ‘Federal Reserve Board’, the US Treasury’ and the Government of Canada.
Mundell worked for many international organizations such as the World Bank, the IMF, the ‘United Nations’ and the ‘European Commission’.

He also served as the ‘Distinguished Professor-at-Large’ of the ‘University of Hong Kong’ in China.

Major Works
One of Robert Mundell’s notable works is the book ‘Man and Economics’ which was published in 1968.
He published the book ‘Monetary Theory: Interest, Inflation and Growth in the World Economy’ in 1971.
His book ‘The Euro as a Stabilizer in the International Economic System’ was published in 2000.
Awards & Achievements
Robert Mundell received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1999.
He received the ‘Guggenheim Prize’ in 1971, the ‘Jaques Rueff Medal and Prize’ in 1983 and a ‘Distinguished Fellow Award’ from the ‘American Economic Association’ in 1997.

He received a ‘Docteur Honoris Causa’ from the ‘University of Paris’ in 1992, an Honorary Professorship from the ‘Renmin University’ in China in 1995, and was made a fellow of the ‘American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ in 1998.

In 2002 he was made a ‘Companion of the Order of Canada’ and in June 2005, he was awarded the ‘Global Economics prize’ by the ‘World Economics institute’ in Kiel, Germany.

In September 2005, he was made a ‘Cavaliere di Gran Croce del Reale Ordine del Merito sotto il Titolo di San Ludovico’ by ‘Principe Don Carlo Ugo di Borbone Parma’.

In 2006, he received an honorary ‘Doctor of Laws’ degree from the ‘University of Waterloo’ in Canada.

Personal Life, Legacy & Death

Robert Mundell had three children from his first marriage, which ended in divorce in 1972. He was married to Valerie Mundell and had a son Nicholas from this marriage.

The ‘Mundell International University of Entrepreneurship’ situated in the Zhongguancun district in Beijing, PRC, has been named after him.


Robert Mundell died from cholangiocarcinoma, a cancer of the bile duct, on April 4, 2022. He was 88.

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