About us

History of the Department


The Department of Economics was established in 1949, with the arrival of Don Patinkin from Chicago. Before that, Alfred Bonne’ had taught economics of Palestine and the Middle East since 1936, and Roberto Bachi had taught statistics (including economic statistics) since 1941.

These three professors laid the foundation for the development of the department of economics, and for the establishment of the Faculty of Social Sciences (the Eliezer Kaplan School) in 1953.

Patinkin soon became world renowned with his book Money, Interest and Prices (1956, 1965), a now classic integration of monetary and value theories. He developed a strong and diversified economics department, whose graduates formed a majority of academic economists in Israel’s civil service (known as "Patinkin Boys"), the business community, as well as in Israel’s academia.

Patinkin, with Simon Kuznets and other leading economists, founded the Maurice Falk Institute for Economic Research in Israel, which - together with the Department, carried out the first basic studies of Israel’s economy, and is still concerned with the empirical study of the country’s current economic questions.

In 1991 the Center for Rationality and Interactive Decision Theory was established, and it serves as the focus for members of the Department (and for mathematicians) concerned with the relevant economic theory.

Thus, the Department has developed its tradition of both theoretical and empirical research, in the spirit of Patinkin. It received official recognition with award of the "Israel Prize" in Social Sciences to Don Patinkin in 1970, in Economics to Menahem Yaari in 1987. Michael Bruno and Robert I. Aumann were awarded in Economics as well, in 1994. In 2002 Robert I. Aumann won also the Emet Prize in Economics.
In 2005 Aumann won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.

More about the history of the department and the School of Social Sciences you can read (in Hebrew) in:

Nachum Gross’s papers: "Social Sciences in the Hebrew University until 1948/9, Plans and Beginnings" and "The Economics Department at Hebrew University in the 1950s".

A paper by Michael Michaely: "The Department of Economics at the Hebrew University Early Days – A Personal Perspective".

Ephraim Kleiman: "Economists in a New State" (in English).

The Maurice Falk Institute

The Maurice Falk Institute for Economic Research in Israel Ltd. encourages economic research in Israel, with particular emphasis on the economy of Israel. In addition, the institution publishes scientific articles on the economy of Israel and organizes conferences on this topic.

Link to the institute website

Center for Rationality

The Center for the Study of Rationality is a unique venture in which faculty, students and guests join forces to explore the rational basis of decision-making. Coming from a broad sweep of departments its members apply game-theoretic tools to examine the processes by which individuals seeking the path of maximum benefit respond to real-world situations where individuals with different goals interact.

Link to the Center's website