Pollin Named Distinguished Professor

Robert Pollin
Monday, December 16, 2013

University of Massachusetts President Robert L. Caret has appointed Professor Robert Pollin (economics), co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), a Distinguished Professor, following approval from the Board of Trustees.

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy voiced his support of honoring Pollin when submitting his nomination to Caret. “Having reviewed the record of Professor Robert Pollin closely, we understand why very many [individuals said] they were ‘honored’ to write on his behalf and felt ‘privileged’ to do so. We feel likewise.  We agree wholeheartedly with the unanimous recommendations to promote Professor Pollin to Distinguished Professor and proudly nominate our colleague for this singular, much deserved, and overdue distinction.”

Pollin joined the faculty of the department of economics in 1998, and his work in various areas of economic research has had a remarkable impact on the fields of economics and public policy. Pollin presciently developed methods to analyze the impact of financial transactions taxes on revenue and speculative trading. He significantly improved economists’ and policymakers’ understanding of the macroeconomic aspects of full-employment and the policies needed to achieve it. He developed the key analytical framework for evaluating the costs, benefits and likely impact of “living wage” policies. And Pollin pioneered the development of the basic empirical framework for estimating the impacts of green and renewable energy investments on employment prospects.

Pollin’s expertise and assistance have been tapped by the United Nations, the Obama administration, developing nations, cities, unions, and various non-governmental organizations in creating, testing, and advancing economic policies on a wide range of topics relevant to his research. Most recently he helped the U.S. Department of Energy design a set of loan guarantees to promote green investments and “green jobs.”

This past April, Pollin co-authored a working paper with fellow professor of economics Michael Ash and graduate student Thomas Herndon titled “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff.” The paper, which reported serious errors in a key 2010 study that lawmakers around the globe used as a cornerstone of austerity policies, sparked a worldwide political and media firestorm. The impact of the paper led Foreign Policy magazine to name Pollin, Ash and Herndon to its list of the 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2013. The final version of their paper will be published soon in the Cambridge Journal of Economics.

Pollin has also made remarkable contributions to the economics department and campus of UMass Amherst, most prominently by his co-founding and co-directing of PERI, which promotes human and ecological well-being through original research that creates workable policy proposals that are capable of improving life on our planet today and in the future.

The author of two books and co-author of four others, Pollin has written 37 chapters in edited volumes, 11 monographs, a substantial number of research reports, and dozens of articles in peer-reviewed journals. He has also presented hundreds of lectures for a variety of academic and public audiences.

Prior to his arrival at UMass Amherst, Pollin was affiliated with the University of California, Riverside as assistant professor (1982-88), associate professor (1988-94), and professor (1994-98). He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from the New School for Social Research and his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.