Yongseok Shin, an expert on macroeconomics and economic growth, was installed as the inaugural Douglass C. North Distinguished Professor in Economics at Washington University in St. Louis during a ceremony in April.
Shin is associate chair of the Department of Economics in Arts & Sciences. His research draws heavily on micro-level data to emphasize how decision-making by individual workers and firms shapes the aggregate economy.
“Professor Shin is a distinguished scholar whose research examines some of the most important questions of our time — from the economic ripple effects created by the pandemic to sources of economic inequality and technology’s impact on jobs,” said Feng Sheng Hu, dean of Arts & Sciences and the Lucille P. Markey Distinguished Professor.
“Even more, Professor Shin is beloved by his students and mentees. He encourages independent thinking, dedication to the work, passion for the subject matter and a solid technical background. As a PhD placement director in the Department of Economics, he helps doctoral candidates navigate potential career opportunities both within and outside academia.
“I can think of no one more suitable to hold the inaugural professorship named for Douglass North, who was one of the Department of Economics’ most distinguished and beloved faculty members.”
Shin’s current projects study the role of government policies in economic growth and the impact of technological progress on economic inequality. Many of Shin’s recent publications have focused on the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, unemployment and workforce trends.
For example, in January 2023, Shin published a new working paper that exposed a previously overlooked cause of the COVID-19 era labor shortage: “quiet quitting.” According to Shin, many employees — especially college-educated men — have significantly reduced working hours, forcing employers to seek additional employees in an already tight labor market.
Shin joined the Washington University faculty in 2008. He is also a research fellow of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the National Bureau of Economic Research, an editorial board member of the Korean Economic Review and a former guest editor of the Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control.
Shin earned a bachelor’s degree from Seoul National University in 1999 and a doctorate in economics from Stanford University in 2004. Prior to joining WashU, he taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Honoring renowned, beloved Nobel laureate
North was a longtime distinguished WashU faculty member whose research examined the formation of political and economic institutions and the consequences of these institutions on the performance of economies through time.
In 1993, North and Robert Fogel, then an economist with the University of Chicago, won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for “having renewed research in economic history by applying economic theory and quantitative methods in order to explain economic and institutional change.”
North remained active in teaching and research at Washington University until shortly before his death in 2015. Former Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton described North as an innovative and groundbreaking thinker, writer and scholar, as well as a thoughtful man, a kind colleague and a generous university citizen.
About Bert and Jeanette Lynch
The Douglass C. North Distinguished Professorship was made possible by a generous bequest from Washington University alumnus Bert Lynch (AB ’35, MA ’36) and his wife, Jeanette, who attended WashU from 1932-1933, to support the study and teaching of economics.
The Lynch estate, built on a successful box and packaging business, also supports professorships held by Steven Fazzari and Bruce Petersen. The estate also provided funding for a future endowed professorship in honor of the late Murray L. Weidenbaum, another notable WashU economics professor and founder of WashU’s Center for the Study of American Business, which was later renamed the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy.
“Through their estate, Bert and Jeanette have created a lasting legacy at WashU. Their generous bequest has helped the university to attract and retain top faculty in the field of economics and provide an exceptional educational experience for students,” said Chancellor Andrew D. Martin.
Dean Hu presided over the ceremony in Holmes Lounge in Ridgley Hall on April 18. Following the ceremony, Shin delivered an address, “The Korean Economy: A Model or a Cautionary Tale?”