The Harvard economics department deeply regrets the passing of emeritus Professor János Kornai, who served as Allie S. Freed Professor of Economics from 1986 to 2002. Professor Kornai made seminal contributions to comparative economics and to our understanding of socialist economies. His 1980 volume on the “Economics of Shortage” explained why shortages were so endemic in socialist economies, and introduced the concept of a “soft budget constraint” to a wide audience. Professor Kornai was an influential voice during the transition from socialism in Eastern Europe, especially in his native Hungary. He died on October 18, 2021, at the age of 93.
October 19, 2021