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Gunnar Myrdal (Sweden)

UNECE Executive Secretary from 1947 to 1957

Gunnar Myrdal was born on December 6, 1898 in Sweden. He graduated from the Law School of Stockholm University in 1923 and began practicing law while continuing his studies at the university. He received his juris doctor degree in economics in 1927 and was appointed docent in political economy. From 1925 to 1929 he studied for periods in Germany and Britain, followed by his first trip to the United States in 1929-1930 as a Rockefeller Fellow. During this period, he also published his first books, including The Political Element in the Development of Economic Theory.

Returning to Europe, he first served for one year as Associate Professor in the Post Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, Switzerland. In 1933 he was appointed to the Lars Hierta Chair of Political Economy and Public Finance at the University of Stockholm. From 1945-1947, he was Sweden's Minister of Commerce, a position which he left to accept his appointment as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. In 1957, he left this post to direct a comprehensive study of economic trends and policies in South Asian countries for the Twentieth Century Fund, which resulted in Asian Drama: An Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations and The Challenge of World Poverty. A World Anti-Poverty Program in Outline.

From 1961, he was back in Sweden and was appointed Professor of International Economics at the Stockholm University. In 1974, he shared the Nobel memorial prize with Friedrich A. Hayek.

He died in Stockholm on May 17, 1987.