John Komlos, PhD

Professor of Economics, Emeritus, University of Munich

John Komlos is professor emeritus of economics and of economic history at the University of Munich, Germany and is currently visiting professor of economics at Duke University. Born in Budapest during the Holocaust, just as the Soviet army began its assault on the city, he became a refugee twelve years later during the revolution of 1956, and grew up in Chicago. He received PhDs in both history and in economics from the University of Chicago where Nobel-Prize winning economic historian Robert Fogel introduced him to the field of anthropometric history in 1982. Komlos devoted most of his academic career developing and expanding this research agenda, which culminated in his founding the field of economics and human biology with the journal of the same name in 2003.

Defying disciplinary boundaries, Komlos is among the very few scholars to publish in major journals of five disciplines: the American Economic Review, the American Historical Review, the American Journal of Human Biology, Statistical Methodology, and Mathematical Population Studies. Komlos was the first to explain why populations of the then-developed world became shorter at the onset of modern economic growth. He also discovered that after being the tallest in the world for 200 years, Americans became shorter than Western Europeans after the Second World War. His work has been cited in radio programs and on television as well as in most major newspapers around the globe including the New York Times, and was featured in the New Yorker magazine in 2004. Since the Meltdown of 2008, Komlos has taught courses on the history of financial crisis in Munich, Duke University, and the Harvard Summer School.


  • PhD University of Chicago