Benjamin Golub delivers Calvó-Armengol Prize Lecture in Barcelona

Ben Golub speaks at a podium during the Prize lecture in Barcelona

Benjamin Golub (Northwestern University) delivered the lecture, “Complexity, Fragility, and Policy in Economic Networks,” at the Cercle d'Economia in Barcelona.

The sixth Calvó-Armengol Prize Lecture was delivered on November 9, 2021 at the Cercle d'Economia in Barcelona by Prize laureate Benjamin Golub (Northwestern University).

Professor Golub received the Calvó-Armengol International Prize in Economics in an official ceremony in Andorra the previous day. The Prize is promoted by the Barcelona School of Economics and the Government of Andorra, with support from the Severo Ochoa Research Excellence Program.

The Andorran Government was represented at the Prize Lecture in Barcelona by Xavier Campuzano, Director of Professional Training, Adult Education, and Technological Innovation. The lecture audience also included BSE students and faculty, as well as members of Professor Calvó-Armengol's family.

Two young and influential scientists

Video: Both Antoni Calvó-Armengol and Benjamin Golub have contributed to the evolution of Economics as a social science.

Barcelona School of Economics director Teresa Garcia-Milà (UPF and BSE) and Calvó-Armengol Prize selection committee member Salvador Barberà (UAB and BSE) opened the lecture by reflecting on the ways that Professor Golub's career and research intersect with those of Prize namesake Antoni Calvó-Armengol.

"Toni was a young scientist full of energy, creative, academically rigorous, internationally recognized, and at the same time socially committed. That is the profile of the awardees of the Prize," Professor Garcia-Milà said.

Professor Barberà pointed out how both Calvó-Armengol and Golub's work on networks has contributed to the evolution of Economics as a social science.

"Ben Golub has lived the spectacular growth of the field from the inside, contributing to it from different angles, working in the places where it developed...He has grown where the field was growing, from studying theory based on fixed networks to a much more dynamic view of the revolution, from theory to experiments, from formal analysis to more and more precise policy recommendations. He has already shared responsibility for the field's growth in very significant ways," Professor Barberà said.

For his part, Professor Golub recognized how Antoni Calvó-Armengol's work influenced the direction of his career. "It's very special to me to get a prize in honor of Toni because his work has been central in my life as a scholar," Professor Golub said.

Network theory for real-world supply chain problems

In his lecture, Golub shared new work on “Complexity, Fragility, and Policy in Economic Networks.” He explained that the recent disruptions to the global supply chain had prompted him and co-authors Matthew Elliott (University of Cambridge) and Matthew Leduc (Paris School of Economics) to think about the problem from a network theory perspective.

Video: Full Calvó-Armengol Prize Lecture by Benjamin Golub (Northwestern University)

A network with roots in Barcelona

Professor Golub concluded his remarks by dedicating his Prize to his own network of co-authors and colleagues, many of whom he's met in Barcelona or in connection with the Calvó-Armengol Prize. 

As an example, he spoke about attending the scientific workshop organized in 2010 by the first Calvó-Armengol Prize laureate, Esther Duflo (MIT). "There was this amazing energy from bringing together some of the best applied researchers and network theorists, and it led to a lot of ideas and the birth of a lot of collaborations that have persisted to this day," Golub said.

He also noted that he comes back to Barcelona almost every year to reconnect at the BSE Summer Forum.

"I have such gratitude and respect for all the institutions that have been built here and this Prize. This community has been an important part of my life, and these people have been the whole substance of my intellectual journey." 

Golub will be back in Barcelona next summer as a co-organizer of the BSE Summer Forum Workshop on Networks.

About the Calvó-Armengol International Prize in Economics

This year's Calvó-Armengol Prize Lecture was hosted by Cercle d'Economia

The Calvó-Armengol Prize is promoted by the Barcelona School of Economics and Govern d'Andorra

with support from the Severo Ochoa Research Excellence Program through Spain's State Research Agency (AEI)