Jean-Jacques Laffont, 1947 - 2004

BrillIant economist and  visionary founder of the Institut d'Economie Industrielle (IDEI), at the very roots of TSE.

Jean-Jacques Laffont was a brilliant economist. He was appreciated for his vision, courage and generosity. His scientific output is impressive in its quantity, quality and scope. He is the author of 17 books and 200 articles in numerous economic domains. He was one of the founding fathers of the theory of information, particularly in the area of anti-selection, the study of interactions and contracts under asymmetry of information. He received many honors: the Silver Medal of the CNRS (1990); Honorary Member of the American Economic Association (1991); Foreign Honorary Member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences (1993); jointly with Jean Tirole, the Yrjo-Jahnsson prize from the European Economics Association, awarded each year to the best European economist under the age of 45 (1993).

Not satisfied with all that he was doing for economic research in France, Jean-Jacques Laffont also wanted to use his abilities for the benefit of developing countries. He travelled extensively, creating teaching facilities and encouraging research in China, Africa and Latin America. In another of his research fields, applied theory, Jean-Jacques Laffont focused on the application of the theory of incentives to the regulative mechanisms for network industries (telecommunications, electricity etc). Finally, while the technical demands of each subfield push most economists to specialise in a single area, he also made major contributions in econometrics. His work on the econometrics of auctions in the mid ‘nineties is considered path-breaking. His work on structural estimation in industrial economics (on the detection of cartels, for example) is also fundamental in the field.

Jean-Jacques Laffont displayed exceptional intellectual and social qualities which he used to serve his native region, the science of economics, the French university system, his students and his colleagues. These gifts allowed him to build both an outstanding career in research and as an academic innovator. As an academic leader, he always displayed a great generosity, encouraging initiative and the intellectual development of his co-workers. This same generous spirit was also manifested in his commitment to developmental economics, which was increasingly his focus these last years.