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Erik Thorbecke is the H.E. Babcock Professor of Economics Emeritus and Graduate School and International Professor at Cornell University and one of the creators of the Foster-Greer-Thorbecke (FGT) metric for measuring poverty.

A Full Vitae can be found here.


Professor Thorbecke is also former Director of the Program on Comparative Economic Development at Cornell, and he is a longstanding member of the Advisory Board for the Cornell Institute for African Development. His past positions include chairman of the Department of Economics at Cornell, a professorship at Iowa State University, and associate assistant administrator for program policy at the Agency for International Development. He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Ghent in 1981.

He has made contributions in the areas of economic and agricultural development, the measurement and analysis of poverty and malnutrition, the Social Accounting Matrix and general equilibrium modeling, and international economic policy. The Foster-Greer-Thorbecke poverty measure (Econometrica, 1984) that he developed (with James Foster and Joel Greer) has been adopted as the standard poverty measure by the World Bank and many UN agencies and is widely used by researchers doing empirical work on poverty. A variant of the FGT was adopted by the Mexican government and used to allocate federal government funds to educational, health and nutrition programs benefiting the poor.

Since the early nineties, he has been closely associated with the African Economic Research Consortium, a "public not-for-profit organization devoted to the advancement of economic policy research and training." He serves as the Chairman of the Thematic Research Group on "Poverty, Income Distribution and Food Security".

Over the past several years (2005-2010) Professor Thorbecke has been co-directing (with Machiko Nissanke) a large scale research project on "The Impact of Globalization on the World's Poor" under the auspices of the United Nations University's World Institute for Development Economics Research.

He is the author or co-author of more than twenty-five books and over one hundred fifty articles.

Recent Activities and Conferences

He continues his research on multidimensional poverty and recently presented a paper on "Institutions for Inclusive Growth in sub-Saharan Africa" at a conference organized by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and the University of London (London, 2013).

He chaired two panels including Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz on "Responding to the World Development Report on Jobs"" at Columbia University in October, 2012 and another one in May, 2013 on the" World Development Report, 2014 on Risk".

In 2013, a Symposium in his honor on "Growth, Poverty and Inequality: Confronting the Challenges of a Better Life for All of Africa" was organized by the Institute for African Development at Cornell University and the African Economic Research Consortium. See this LINK for details.

Contact Information

Erik Thorbecke
Professor (Emeritus)
B-16 MVR Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

Phone: (607) 255-2066
Fax: (607) 255-0178