Celebrating the work of Professor Martin Wittenberg
On Friday, October 27th, DataFirst and UCT’s School of Economics hosted a conference to honour the lifetime contributions of Professor Martin Wittenberg to economics, and more broadly to quantitative social science, in South Africa.
Current and former students, coauthors, friends, family and colleagues attended the conference. Six papers were presented during the day, covering topics close to Martin’s own work: wage and income inequality, electrification, household and family structure, and statistical inference and data quality.
Between the academic presentations, audience members - both those physically present and those attending virtually - spoke of their experiences of working with Martin. Many of these contributions came from former students who themselves are now academics at universities in the United States, Australia, or South Africa; or, are in research positions in organisations such as the World Bank, Statistics South Africa, or Amazon.com.
Several clear themes emerged from the contributions of the conference attendees: first, Martin’s dedication to rigorous scholarship and his integrity as a researcher; second, the quality and depth of his mentorship of graduate students; third, his frankness and honesty as a colleague; and finally, his commitment to building public goods that enable other to do better and more reliable research of their own.
Professor Wittenberg will step down as the director of DataFirst at the end of 2023.