The Nobel Prize seed was planted in the sink

Imbens also holds US citizenship and has been living in the US for some time, as it is still very early in the morning for the phone conversation with Dr. Kelder. However, he believes that the Netherlands can also lay claim to part of its success.

“I owe a lot to my studies in Rotterdam, which was a very good education, and I also worked in Tilburg for a year and a half,” Empains says.

But it can’t be a purely Dutch award, and this mainly pertains to that laundry at Harvard. “Joshua Ingreste and I (with whom Impens won the prize together, editor) live in Harvard in a college apartment without a washing machine. So we spent many Saturdays in this laundry room. And so, the philosophical conversations we had there about econometrics were so crucial, ‘ says Impens.


In the 1990s, Empains and two colleagues conducted research into causal relationships in the real economy. Empains and colleagues do not use economic theories as a guideline, but they do attempt to explain causal links with natural experiments. For example, Imbens checked a person’s working hours after winning the lottery and salary after military service.

Empans has been described by the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) as one of the world’s pioneers of econometrics. His research methods are still used today.

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