Tinbergen, Jan

From Astro-Databank
Jump to: navigation, search
Tinbergen, Jan Gender: M
born on 12 April 1903 at 23:00 (= 11:00 PM )
Place Den Haag, Netherlands, 52n05, 4e19
Timezone LST m4e53 (is standard time)
Data source
Quoted BC/BR
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Koppejan
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_aricol.18.gif 21°50' s_mo.18.gif s_scocol.18.gif 03°14 Asc.s_sagcol.18.gif 06°09'

Jan Tinbergen
photo: Anefo / Croes, R.C., license cc-by-sa-3.0


Dutch economist and physicist, Noble Prize winner, one of the founding fathers of econometrics. He was the eldest son of Dr. Dirk Cornelis Tinbergen (8 May 1874, Den Haag - 12 Febr 1951, Den Haag), a teacher of Dutch letters at the gymnasium and Jeanette van Eek (30 April 1877 - 10 Sept 1960, Den Haag), a Remonstrant teacher. They married 23 July 1902 in Den Haag and got four sons and a daughter. All five children were very intelligent and got an academic degree, three of them became a professor, of which two were awarded the Noble prize: Jan Tinbergen in 1969 for economics and the Oxford professor of ethology and teacher of Richard Dawkins, Nico Tinbergen (15 April 1907, Den Haag – 21 December 1988, Oxford ) for Physiology and Medicine in 1973. Their youngest brother Luuk Tinbergen died early (7 September 1915, Den Haag - 1 September 1955, Groningen). But as a prominent Dutch professor in ornithology and ecologist, he certainly influenced his two Nobel Prize winning elder brothers and indirectly many others.

Tinbergen's father stimulated the learning of foreign languages and science of his children. His mother, who had been a teacher of fisherman children in Scheveningen, brought them into contact with the world of the poor and orphaned. During WWI the family hosted Austrian refugee children. Tinbergen was stimulated to work hard to improve his and the outside him existing world, but he also knew that this could not achieved by only for themselves working individuals. He early learned to have a social feeling and the need to co-operate.

Tinbergen followed the HBS in Den Haag, where he met his spouse Tine. In 1921 Tinbergen studied Mathematics and Physics at Leiden University. After his Candidate exam in December 1922 he became an assistant of the quantum mechanics professor Paul Ehrenfest (18 Jan 1880, Wien - 25 September 1933, Amsterdam). It was a fascinating job in a stimulating environment as he met great physicists like Kamerlingh Onnes, Hendrik Lorentz, Pieter Zeeman and Albert Einstein.

But he also saw the poverty of the majority of people in Leiden, that were not part of the happy few. As a poor student he lived in the slums of Leiden. He became a member of the Sociaal-Democratische Arbeiderspartij (SDAP) in 1922 and became active in the socialist student movement SDSC. Ideals they spoke of were pacifism and how to practically help the poor. Tinbergen imagined that the empirical and statistical methods that were so successful in the exact sciences, might also benefit the then more by ideology than facts defined "political economical" science.

Tinbergen, a pacifist, had been called to arms in 1921, but as a student he got delay till after his Mathematical Physics exam in July 1925. He considered first to refuse the army, but he knew that he would then be sent to prison. But he could profit from the new legislation "Dienstweigeringswet" of 1923 that conscious objectors like him were offered an alternative civil job instead of the army that would last 25 months.

His civil service started May 1926. Before that, he worked as journalist for the socialistic paper "Het Volk", describing in a series the life of the poor in Leiden. In May 1926 he worked a a clerk in a prison for the first 15 months. As this was a redundant job created for the purpose of "civil service", he got plenty of time to study economics. The last 10 months he could work at the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) in Den Haag. June 1928 he returned to Leiden with new economical knowledge. He stayed till 1945 connected with the Bureau Conjunctuuronderzoek of the CBS. In Leiden his promotor Ehrenfest, who came from an once poor Austrian Jewish grocery family, proposed him to combine mathematics, physics, economics and politics which resulted in his PhD thesis in 22 March 1929: "Minimumproblemen in de natuurkunde en de economie" (Minimisation problems in Physics and Economics).

On 19 July 1929 he married the jurist Tine Johanna de Wit (27 October 1902, Batavia - 8 May 1991) from which he got four daughters. That same summer in 1929 started the Great Depression, culminating in the Stock market crash of "Black Thursday" 24 October 1929 and leading to years of social unrest and unemployment. After the WW2 his economical themes were the rebuilding of the economy and in the fifties and sixties the economy of developing countries and the need to get a sustainable earth.

In 1931 Tinbergen became a private lecturer on Statistics at the University of Amsterdam. In 1933 at the "Nederlandsche Handels Hoogeschool", now the Erasmus School of Economics of the Erasmus University at Rotterdam. From 1945 to 1950 he was professor of Statistics, Mathematical Economy and Econometrics in Rotterdam. As an econometric he developed mathematical models of the economy. With the help of the data of the CBS he could test, refute or improve them, just like physicists did with the empirical laws of nature.

In 1936 he presented the world’s first dynamic macroeconomic model for The Netherlands. As he was not interested in the question who was right as seen by the majority, but in what really worked for the economy. He called this the Ehrenfest-principe: "Het komt zelden voor dat van twee opinies slechts één juist is, en de ander fout. In de meeste gevallen vormen beide deel van de waarheid, als regel sluiten de twee opinies elkaar niet uit. Vervolgens rijst de vraag "in welke mate elk correct is"; of, hoe beide opinies "gecombineerd" moeten worden om het beste beeld van de werkelijkheid te geven." ("It is rare that only one of two opinions is right and the other wrong. In most cases, both form part of the truth, as a rule the two opinions are not mutually exclusive. The next question is "to what extent each one is correct "; or, how both opinions "combined" should be to give the best picture of reality.")

Commissioned by the Economic Intelligence Service (EIS) of the League of Nations Tinbergen published in 1939 a two-volume book "Statistical Testing of Business Cycles Theories" using data for the United States economy. The director of the EIS, A. Loveday send his report to major "political" economists, but Tinbergen could defend his practical and empirical approach with success. The ideological debate between major (opposing) economists like J.M. Keynes, Ragnar Frisch and Milton Friedman about his statistical approach is sometimes referred to as "The Tinbergen debate".

As a pragmatic scientist and inspired member of the SDAP Labour Party, he had a major influence on the development of social democratic thinking in the Netherlands and abroad. He was a strongly principal man and could be called an idealist, but he was not a radical, ivory tower professor or dreamer. He argued with practical and refutable laws like the "Tinbergen Norm" that stated that, if the ratio between the greatest and least income in a company exceeds 5, it will not help the company and may be counter-productive. But to achieve this, governments had to invest in the education of the least privileged. As only properly schooled workers, can earn enough money to reduce the income gap with the privileged rich.

Today, political parties in the Netherlands are invited to let the expected macro-economical effects and the income-effects on social groups of their programs, to be calculated by the Centraal Planbureau CPB. As does the Dutch government when preparing the budget. Today, budgeting using more and more refined macro-economic models is just a wise practice that can prevent a lot of social misery.

In 1969 Jan Tinbergen and Ragnar Frisch were awarded the first Nobel Prize in Economics "for having developed and applied dynamic models for the analysis of economic processes”.

As a prominent human rights activist, Tinbergen was also a member of the Dutch Sharansky committee. On the day the picture above was taken (2 November 1982), he visited the Russian Embassy in the Netherlands to acquire a visa to visit the on 15 March 1977 arrested political prisoner Nathan Sharansky. His ultimate goal was Sharansky's liberation. Sharansky was released on 11 February 1986.

Jan Tinbergen died at old age on 9 June 1994 in Den Haag.

The Tinbergen Institute was named after him in 1987.

Link to Wikipedia


  • business associate/partner relationship with Kramers, Hans (born 17 December 1894). Notes: Both PhD fathers of famous physicists and economists
  • opponent/rival/enemy relationship with Friedman, Milton (born 31 July 1912). Notes: Social Democratic versus Free Market Capitalism
  • (has as) teacher relationship with Ehrenfest, Paul (born 18 January 1880). Notes: student and friend of the family
  • (has as) student relationship with Lubbers, Ruud (born 7 May 1939)
  • (has as) student relationship with Pronk, Jan (born 16 March 1940). Notes: research-assistant of Tinbergen in 1965
  • (has as) boss relationship with Weinreb, Friedrich (born 18 November 1910). Notes: Helped Weinreb to find posts
  • (has as) worker relationship with Polak, Fred (born 21 May 1907). Notes: Central Planning Bureau


  • Social : End a program of study July 1925 in Leiden (Mathematics and Physics)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 22 March 1929 in Leiden (Thesis: Minimumproblemen in de natuurkunde en de economie)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Relationship : Marriage 19 July 1929 in Den Haag (Tine Johanna de Wit, a jurist)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death of Sibling 1 September 1955 in Groningen (suicide of Luuk, who was professor in ornithology and ecologist)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Other Social 2 November 1982 (Activism for the Dutch Sharansky committee)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death, Cause unspecified 9 June 1994 in Den Haag (9 June 1994 in Den Haag.)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Koppejan gives 12 April 1903 23h00 Den Haag in Beeldgids van de dierenriem. The same date is here: Jan Tinbergen - International Institute of Social History.

Svi confirmed Koppejan's time in the municipal archive (des avonds ten elf ure) and uploaded the BC to astrodienst.


  • Vocation : Education : Researcher (economics and econometrics)
  • Vocation : Humanities+Social Sciences : Economics
  • Vocation : Politics : Activist/ social (Human rights, the right on equal education and the struggle against born with poverty.)
  • Vocation : Politics : Public office (National and international economic advisor)
  • Notable : Awards : Nobel prize (1st Noble Prize of Economics together with Ragnar Frisch)
  • Notable : Famous : First in Field (founding father of econometrics)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession (economy and econometrics)