Elhanan Helpman


Economics, Finance and Management

6th Edition

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Laureate in the Economics, Finance and Management category goes in this sixth edition to Elhanan Helpman for his outstanding work in two key areas in modern economics: international trade and output growth. His contributions include the analysis of the production location choices of multinational firms and the relationship between organizations and protectionist political economy.


The jury awards the prize to Elhanan Helpman for his fundamental contributions to the understanding of modern international economics and of economic growth. His research has highlighted the role of market structure as well as multinational firms. Another set of contributions analyzes the competition for protection among political interest groups. Helpman’s model of quality ladders contributes to the literature analyzing how cumulative innovation promotes economic growth.

Helpman’s research has transformed the theory of international trade by giving it a strong grounding in the theory of the firm and of monopolistic competition. In several papers, he laid the foundations for integrating the traditional theory of comparative advantage with the behavior of transnational firms and foreign direct investment. This work helped to initiate a large literature on the location of production of final and intermediate goods across countries.

Helpman’s research has demonstrated the complexity and the limits of national trade policy in a globalized economy. The analytical tools developed in his research have had their impact also beyond the realm of foreign trade theory, influencing growth economics and political economy alike. His research on the politics of protection has suggested that an industry’s level of protection is related, among other things, to the level of its political organization, its exposure to foreign trade and the responsiveness of domestic prices to variations in tariff protection.