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Walter Erwin DIEWERT

Walter Erwin DIEWERT, economist in the field of General Economic Theory; Quantitative Economic Methods; International Trade Theory. University California Best Thesis Economics Award, 1969; Fellow, Econometric Society., 1975; Royal Society Canada, 1982.

Background

  • DIEWERT, Walter Erwin was born in 1941 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

  • Education

    • Bachelor of Arts (Mathematics), Master of Arts (Mathematics) University British Columbia, 1963, 1965. Doctor of Philosophy University California Berkeley, 1969.

    Career

    • Assistant Professor, University Chicago, 1968-1970. Visiting Professor, Harvard University, 1970. Association Professor, University British Columbia, 1970-1974.

      Research Consultant, Canadian Department Manpower and Immigration, Ottawa, 1970-1973. Visiting Professor, Stanford University, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981. Research Consultant Statistics, Canada, Ottawa, 1983.

      Visiting Professor, University Amsterdam, 1983. University Sydney, 1983. Professor of Economics, University British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, 1974-.

      Association Editor, Journal of Econometrics, 1973-1983, American Economic Review, 1978-1981.

    Major achievements

    • University California Best Thesis Economics Award, 1969. Fellow, Econometric Society., 1975. Royal Society Canada, 1982.

    Views

    My early research was directed towards finding functional forms for production and utility functions that could provide second order approximations to arbitrary linearly homogeneous functions, i.e., finding ‘flexible’ functional forms. This work led me into duality theory, which investigates under what conditions technology sets or preferences can be represented by functions of prices. Duality theory proved to be useful not only in solving the econometric problems involved in estimating preferences or technology, but also in deriving comparative statics theorems in complex models, such as general equilibrium models with unions, governments or international trade.

    Since most microeconomic problems can be phrased in terms of constrained maximisation problems, some of my research has been concerned with the mathematical properties of these problems. Thus Woodland and I used the properties of inverse bordered Hessian matrices to prove comparative statics theorems in production and trade theory. My interest in the mathematics of optimisation theory also led to some research (with Avriel and Zang) characterising different types of quasiconcavity.

    Other measurement problems that I have worked on are: (1) the determination of an optimal or ‘superlative’ functional form for an index number formula. (2) nonparametric approximations or bounds for preferences and technology sets. (3) alternative concepts for measuring the deadweight loss due to distortions and the derivation of second order approximations to these theoretical loss measures.

    And (4) the determination of shadow prices in order to evaluate projects in a distorted economy. My recent research topics in the area of production theory include: (1) developing the comparative statics of a finite horizon intertemporal profit maximisation problem (with T. Lewis). (2) the economics of transfer pricing.

    And (3) modelling the effects of an innovation.

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