Economics Professor Awarded International Prize
Harvard Economics Professor Roland G. Fryer has been named the recipient of the 2012 Calvo-Armengol International Prize in recognition of his research on racial interaction and education policy.
It is the second prestigious award given to Fryer in recent weeks, as he received a MacArthur “Genius” Grant in late September.
The Calvo-Armengol Prize is awarded every other year by the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics to a “top researcher in economics or social sciences younger than 40 years old for his or her contribution to the theory and comprehension of the mechanisms of social interaction,” according to the official prize website.
Fryer is the second-ever recipient of the award, following MIT Economics Professor Esther Duflo, who was awarded the prize for her research in development economics.
Fryer has written extensively on segregation, the achievement gap, and teenage behavior.
One topic of interest for his research has been the plight of mixed raced children.
In an interview, Fryer noted that while some of these children displayed “particularly bad” behavior in school, “The types of behavior they engaged in really depended on the networks of friends that they had.”
“Interestingly, later in life, they totally rebounded and had higher incomes,” Fryer added.
In general, Fryer said he studies social interactions as a key factor in determining individual outcomes.
“What’s important to me is that everyone, every single person, has an opportunity to be a productive part of the economy,” Fryer said. “It frustrates me that there are children, just by circumstance of their birth, that will not have the same opportunity in the economy that other folks do.”
Fryer himself defied the odds, overcoming an impoverished upbringing in order to become a renowned economist.
Although he has done extensive research in education and racial social interactions—and is currently evaluating a project implemented by the Houston public schools to turn around schools for the better—Fryer said he has not yet achieved all of his goals.
“I don’t think I am successful, with all due respect of the prize committee,” Fryer said. “My goal has always been to fundamentally change the odds for children who were born in poor ZIP codes. I haven’t done that yet. And that’s what motivates me.”