Simon Fraser University


Richard Lipsey

Richard Lipsey - Honorary Degree Recipient

October 4, 2007

Richard Lipsey, an economist and SFU professor emeritus, will receive a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on Thursday, October 4 at the 9:45 am ceremony.

Lipsey helped spark the free trade debate of the 1980s and has spent half a century engaged in economic research and teaching. Although he retired a decade ago, he continues to work on key economic issues. He remains involved with the university’s Public Policy program and is currently designing research into coping with the effects of climate change.

“Much thought and effort has gone into alleviating the causes of climate change, but much less has gone into coping with the inevitable effects,” says Lipsey. “Whatever the causes—human activity or natural climate variations—the effects will be dramatic and need to be foreseen, and preparations need to be made to deal with them before it is too late.”

Lipsey is also examining the private/public efforts to finance the great transforming technologies of the 19th and 20th centuries, such electricity, internal combustion engines, computers and biotechnology. He wants to establish how much public support emerging major technologies need to get off the ground and then examine the consequences when that support is neglected.

Lipsey also continues to develop models of economic growth sustained by transforming technologies. Such models can be fitted to data to help understand both the role of the technologies in sustaining economic growth, and the effects of public policy on their evolution.

An officer of the Order of Canada (1991), Lipsey wrote An Introduction to Positive Economics in 1963. The book swept away old thinking about economic theory and changed the way the entire profession thought about its work.

His 2006 book, Economic Transformations: General Purpose Technologies looks at how technologies currently changing the world are affecting its economy. Lipsey received the 2005 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) gold medal—its highest honor—for his lifetime of research.