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Jeffrey David Sachs

Jeffrey David Sachs is an American economist and Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University. Sachs is one of the youngest economics professors in the history of Harvard University. He has been known for his work on the challenges of economic development, environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation, debt cancellation, andglobalization.


  • Charming and popular, Sachs was Oak Park High School student council president. However, unlike most teens, he was passionate and active about politics. Sachs marched on Moratorium Day, a day university students around the nation spent protesting the Vietnam War and calling for its end. Sachs also attended rallies that featured the legendary United Farm Worker leader Cesar Chavez.

  • He graduated from Oak Park High School. He attended Harvard College, where he received his B.A. summa cum laude in 1976. He went on to receive his M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from Harvard, and was invited to join the Harvard Society of Fellows while still a Harvard graduate student.


  • In 1980, he joined the Harvard faculty as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1982. A year later, at the age of 28, Sachs became a Full Professor of economics with tenure at Harvard.

    During the next 19 years at Harvard, he became the Galen L. Stone Professor of International Trade, the Director of the Harvard Institute for International Development at the Kennedy School of Government (1995–1999), and the Director of the Center for International Development (1999–2002).

    In 2002, Sachs left Harvard to become the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York City. At Columbia he is the Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and is also a professor in Columbia's Department of Economics and the Department of Health Policy and Management. His classes are taught at the School of International and Public Affairs and theMailman School of Public Health, and his course "Challenges of Sustainable Development" is taught at the undergraduate level.

    In his capacity as Director of the Earth Institute, he leads a university-wide organization of more than 850 professionals from natural-science and social-science disciplines, in support of sustainable development. Sachs has consistently advocated for the expansion of University education on sustainable development, and helped to introduce the PhD in Sustainable Development at Columbia University, one of the first PhD programs of its kind in the U.S. He championed the new Masters of Development Practice (MDP), which has led to a consortium of major universities around the world offering the new degree. The Earth Institute has also guided the adoption of sustainable development as a new major at Columbia College. The Earth Institute is home to cutting-edge research on all aspects of earth systems and sustainable development.

    Sachs’ policy and academic works span the challenges of globalization, and include: the relationship of trade and economic growth; the resource curse and extractive industries; public health and economic development; economic geography; strategies of economic reform; international financial markets; macroeconomic policy; global competitiveness; climate change; and the end of poverty. He has authored or co-authored hundreds of scholarly articles and several books, including three bestsellers and a textbook on macroeconomics that is widely used around the world.

    In 2011 Sachs called for the creation of a third U.S. political party, an "Alliance for the Radical Center".


Confession: Jewish


  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences

  • Harvard Society of Fellows

  • Fellows of the World Econometric Society

  • Brookings Panel of Economists

  • Board of Advisors of the Chinese Economists Society

  • Institute of Medicine

  • International Financial Institutions Advisory Commission
    1999 - 2000

  • World Health Organization's Commission on Macroeconomics and Health
    2000 - 2001


  • The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time (Penguin, 2005) book
  • Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (Penguin, 2008) book
  • The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity (Random House, 2011) book


Born November 5, 1954
(age 60)
  • studied at Oak Park High School
  • 1978
    studied at Harvard University, Econs., Master of Arts
  • 1980
    studied at Harvard University, Econs., Doctor of Philosophy
  • 1970 - 1976
    studied at Harvard University, cum laude, Bachelor of Arts
  • 1980 - 1982
    Assistant Professor, Harward
  • 1982 - 1983
    Associate Professor, Harward
  • 1983 - 1995
    Full Professor , Harward
  • 1992
    Director, Earth Institute at Columbia University
  • 1995 - 1999
    the Director of the Harvard Institute for International Development , Harward, Kennedy School of Government
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