Béla Balassa

Economist, Academic

1928 – 1991


Who was Béla Balassa?

Béla Alexander Balassa was a Hungarian economist and professor at Johns Hopkins University and a consultant for the World Bank.

Balassa is best known for his work on the relationship between purchasing power parity and cross-country productivity differences. He is also known for his work on revealed comparative advantage.

Balassa received a law degree from the University of Budapest. He left Hungary after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and went to Austria. While there, he received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to study at Yale University, where he received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics in 1958 and 1959, respectively. He won the John Addison Porter Prize for 1959. Belassa also did extensive consulting work for the World Bank, serving as an advisor about development and trade policy. According to an authoritative history of the Bank, Balassa was "a protagonist of the Bank's conceptual transformation in the trade-policy area during the 1970s."

Beyond economics, Balassa was a noted gourmet who compiled and periodically updated an unofficial guide to eating well in Paris while remaining within an international agency expense allowance, which circulated among his friends and colleagues.

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Apr 6, 1928
Also known as
  • Bela Balassa
  • Bela A Balassa
  • Hungary
  • Yale University
  • Eötvös Loránd University
May 1, 1991
Washington, D.C.

on July 23, 2013


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