Six researchers whose scientific contributions have fundamentally benefited society – among them Barcelona GSE Affiliated Professor Joan María Esteban – have been announced as the 2007 winners of the Rei Jaume I Prize. The announcement was made during a June 19 ceremony presided over by Francisco Camps, President of the Government of Valencia, who stressed that the award is given not only in recognition of research excellence but also as a "path to solving problems of the present and future".
The prize was established in 1989 by the Valencia Government and the Valencia Foundation for Advanced Studies (FVEA), and is awarded in the areas of Basic Research, Medical Research, Environmental Protection, New Technologies, Urbanism and Sustainability, and Economics.
Recipients are chosen by a prominent international jury that includes Nobel Prize laureates as well as many distinguished public figures. The selected researchers are honored in a ceremony presided over by a member of the Spanish Royal Family, and receive a gold metal, a diploma, and a 100,000 euro award.
"Spain has very high standards in research in Economics, so it's a surprise and honor to be selected for this award", says Professor Esteban, who is Senior Researcher at the Institute for Economic Analysis (IAE-CSIC) in addition to his affiliation with the Barcelona GSE.
Barcelona GSE Affiliated Professor and IAE Senior Researcher Joan M. Esteban
Professor Esteban describes the research process as "relatively solitary", since "you have an idea, develop it, send it in, have it published, and, afterward, you don't know what's happened, how many people have read it, or what influence it's had". For this reason, research awards are an "extremely stimulating" external signal that "what you do is interesting to others".
His selection for the prize was based on his significant contributions to the identification of polarization as a key component to understanding social conflicts and analyzing economic development. For over 20 years, jointly with NYU Professor Debraj Ray, he has been studying the role of polarization in social conflict, and has developed mathematical models to examine the relationship between social polarization and conflict intensity, as well as which political systems are most effective in preventing the outbreak of open conflict in the presence of conflicting positions.
In addition to his independent research, Professor Esteban is Project Coordinator for the Polarization and Conflict Organization, funded by the European Commission, which seeks to examine conflict to provide new and fruitful methods of modeling social and economic relations and institutions. He has also conducted research in the areas of income distribution and inequality, regional economics, fiscal federalism, and conflict polarization.
Previously, Professor Esteban has held academic positions at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, two of the Barcelona GSE founding institutions. He holds a PhD in Economics from the UAB and a D. Phil. in Economics from Oxford University. His publications have appeared in top journals such as American Economic Review, American Political Science Review, Econometrica, and the Journal of Economic Theory.