Torsten Persson is an economist, who currently serves as a Swedish Research Council Distinguished Professor at IIES, Stockholm University and as a Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics. He has held visiting positions at leading universities such as Berkeley, Harvard, and Princeton, USA.
Prof. Persson’s research spans different areas of economics and its intersections with other social sciences. He is most well-known for his articles and books on political economics. Persson’s current research in this field focuses on two sets of issues. In a set of theoretical papers, he models the two-way interactions between the cultural evolution of different values and political institutions in shaping different aspects of public policies. In a set of empirical papers, he uses rich register data for the entire Swedish population to study which people are selected to be politicians, and how political leaders use their power.
He has been engaged in practical policymaking, especially during crises. Thus, Persson was a member of the Economics Commission, which was tasked with recommending ways out of Sweden’s deep economic crisis in the 1990s. In 2020-22, He was a member of the Swedish Corona Commission – since then, he leads a broad multidisciplinary programmes on the evolution and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prof. Persson chaired one of the first ERC Starting Grants evaluation panels in 2007-10. His research has been financed by two Advanced ERC Grants in the past.
He was elected President of the world-wide Econometric Society in 2008, and President of the European Economic Association in 2003. Persson is a member of six Academies and has won a number of scientific distinctions and prizes, including the 1997 Yrjö Jahnsson Medal (to “the best young economist in Europe”), the 2018 Distinguished CES Fellowship, and the 2022 BBVA Frontiers of Science Award.