The Journal of the Canadian Economics Association
La revue de l'association canadienne d'économique

The Harry Johnson Prize

The Canadian Economics Association awards the Harry G. Johnson Prize each year to the author or authors of the paper judged to be the best paper published in the Canadian Journal of Economics in the preceding calendar year.

The Prize is named in honour of distinguished Canadian economist Harry G. Johnson who died in 1977 at the age of 57. Harry Johnson was born in Toronto and obtained his B.A. degree in Political Economy from the University of Toronto in 1943. He then obtained his first academic appointment, as Acting Professor at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, where he stayed for one year. He served with the Canadian army in the latter stages of WWII, then returned to the University of Toronto in 1946 to do an M.A. degree. Johnson moved on to Harvard for his Ph.D. studies in economics, and subsequently held several distinguished academic appointments, most notably at the University of Chicago and at the London School of Economics. He also took the time to hold many visiting appointments in Canada over the years.

Harry Johnson produced a remarkably large quantity of highly influential research publications, particularly but not exclusively in international finance, international trade theory, and macroeconomics. In addition, he was a larger than life figure who is remembered for the enormous impact he had on the structure of economics graduate programs in Britain, the USA, and Canada, and also for his impact on the evolution of economics journals. Although he never held a permanent professorial appointment in Canada, he somehow managed to be the most academically influential and respected "Canadian" economist of the 1960s and early 1970s.

The Prize is awarded at the annual meetings of the Canadian Economics Association and is selected by a committee of three, who normally serve for three years each in overlapping terms. The prize was incepted in 1977 and has a cash value of $2,000.

Winner 2009

The winners of this year's Harry Johnson Prize for the year best article in the Canadian Journal of Economics in 2009 are Nezih Guner and John Knowles for Why is the Rate of Single-Parenthood Lower in Canada than in the U.S.? A Dynamic Equilibrium Analysis of Welfare Policies, which appeared in the February 2009 issue of the Canadian Journal of Economics. Guner teaches at the Universidad Carols III de Madrid, and Knowles at the University of Southampton.

The authors use a dynamic equilibrium model of household formation and human capital formation in children to investigate the differential impacts of welfare policies targeted at lone mothers with benefits based on the number of children (as in the U.S.system) versus means-based welfare policies with a broader base (as in the classic Canadian policy). Using simulations from the model, they argue that differences in these policies can explain the higher U.S. lone parent rate. They also conclude that the Canadian style system is better for human capital formation for children. This paper is an extremely good example of the use of careful economic analysis being used in the service of improving our understanding of public policies.

Previous Winners: 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980
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2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010
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