Béla Balassa

Béla Alexander Balassa (6 April 1928 – 10 May 1991) was a Hungarian economist and professor at Johns Hopkins University and a consultant for the World Bank.

Béla Balassa
Born(1928-04-06)6 April 1928
Died10 May 1991(1991-05-10) (aged 63)
Alma materYale University
University of Budapest
Known forBalassa–Samuelson effect
Scientific career
InstitutionsJohns Hopkins University
ThesisPlanning in Theory and Practice: The Hungarian Experience (1959)
Academic advisorsWilliam Fellner
Lloyd Reynolds
Robert Triffin

Balassa is best known for his work on the relationship between purchasing power parity and cross-country productivity differences (the Balassa–Samuelson effect).[1] He is also known for his work on revealed comparative advantage.[2]

Balassa received a law degree from the University of Budapest. He left Hungary after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and went to Austria.[3] While there, he received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to study at Yale University, where he received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics in 1958 and 1959, respectively. He won the John Addison Porter Prize for 1959.[4][5] Balassa also did extensive consulting work for the World Bank, serving as an advisor about development and trade policy.[3] According to an authoritative history of the Bank, Balassa was "a protagonist of the Bank's conceptual transformation in the trade-policy area during the 1970s."[6]

Beyond economics, Balassa was a noted gourmet who compiled and periodically updated an unofficial guide to eating well in Paris while remaining within an international agency expense allowance, which circulated among his friends and colleagues.[7]


  • The Theory of Economic Integration. George Allen & Unwin Ltd. London : 1961.
  • Trade prospects for developing countries, Homewood, Ill. : 1964.
  • Trade Liberalization Among Industrial Countries : Objectives and Alternatives. Published for the Council on Foreign Relations by McGraw-Hill. New York : 1967.
  • The Role of Foreign Trade in the Economic Development of Korea, in Foreign Trade and Investment, University of Wisconsin Press.
  • The Newly Industrializing Countries in the World Economy, Pergamon Press: New York.
  • Policy Responses to External Shocks in Hungary and Yugoslavia: 1974-76 and 1979-81, Volume 1, Economic Performance and Policy, Printed for the Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, October 28, 1985.
  • Policy Experiments in Chile, 1973-1983, in The National Economic Policies of Chile, Edward Altman and Ingo Walter, Eds, New York University.
  • The "New Growth Path" in Hungary, in Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, December 1985.


  • 1962–1967 teaching assistant at Yale University
  • 1966–1991 Professor at Johns Hopkins University
  • 1966– Advisor, the World Bank
  • 1970–1971 editor of REStat; chairman of the Association of Comparative Economics
  • 1979–1980 chairman of the Association of Comparative Economic Studies
  • 1980 Institut de France, Laureate


  1. ^ Kenneth A. Reinert; Ramkishen S. Rajan; Amy Jocelyn Glass (22 December 2008). The Princeton Encyclopedia of the World Economy. Princeton University Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-691-12812-2. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  2. ^ Rüdiger Pethig; Michael Rauscher; Horst Siebert (7 May 2003). Challenges to the World Economy: Festschrift for Horst Siebert. Springer. p. 115. ISBN 978-3-540-00316-8. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  3. ^ a b Jan-Erik Lane (2008). Globalization: The Juggernaut of the 21st Century. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 137–. ISBN 978-0-7546-7393-4. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  4. ^ "Bela Balassa, Professor At Johns Hopkins, Dies", The Washington Post, May 11, 1991.
  5. ^ Szenberg, Michael; Ramrattan, Lall, eds. (2004), Reflections of Eminent Economists, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 26–37, ISBN 1-84376-628-0.
  6. ^ Devesh Kapur; John Prior Lewis; Richard Charles Webb (1997). The World Bank: History. Brookings Institution Press. p. 483. ISBN 978-0-8157-5234-9. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  7. ^ Balassa, Béla. A Primer in Culinary Economics, or How to Maximize the Culinary Utility of the Dollar in Paris. Processed. 8th edition, 1987.