The following first appeared 0n 6 August 2009 in the News and Events webpages of the University of Sussex, and is re-published here by kind permission.

Tibor Barna 1919-2009

Tibor Barna, Professor of Economics at Sussex from 1962 to the early 1980s, died on 17 July. After his funeral on 31 July, a reception was held in the Meeting House on campus.

Tibor was born in 1919 in Budapest into a Jewish family who ran a tailor's shop. It was assumed that the young Tibor would go to university abroad, preferably in Britain. In 1940 he took a first-class Honours degree in Economics at the London School of Economics (LSE). He immediately started a PhD on the redistributive impact of taxation and within a few years was established as a leading world authority on that and related fiscal issues. He worked, with his PhD supervisor Nicholas Kaldor, on Beveridge's famous 'Full Employment Report', and in 1944 was offered a teaching post at the LSE. By 1945 he was publishing national income estimates for the UK that were more detailed and more timely than the official figures.

It was around the same time that he started working in the field of input-output analysis, another area where he would eventually acquire world status. From a fellowship at Nuffield College, Oxford, Tibor went on to the General Economic Analysis Division of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, where he remained till 1955.

His big project as deputy director at the National Institute of Economic Research (NIER) was on the measurement of the growth of industrial capital; it produced a series of articles on investment issues and, once again, established Tibor as a leading pioneer in a key policy area. But there were tensions between him and the Institute, and in 1962 he left to take up the chair of Economics at the new University of Sussex.

Tibor threw himself enthusiastically into the innovative culture of the new university, taking up radical ideas about the teaching of Economics, and of the inter-disciplinary 'contextual' courses that were Sussex's hallmark in the early days. He relished also the more open, democratic style of university administration that Sussex developed in the 1960s, partly under the pressure of the 'student revolution'. He moved from the School of Social Sciences to the School of European Studies in the late 1970s, again making a big contribution to the development of social-science-based contextual courses in that school.

He continued to be active in the public policy sphere and in 1974 was awarded the CBE for his work on the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. But towards the end of his time at Sussex he became increasingly withdrawn - partly, perhaps, for personal reasons - and seemed a little disillusioned with the Sussex project. He took phased early retirement in the early 1980s, but continued to be actively involved in research and always maintained an interest in the careers of former students and colleagues.

Tibor was not interested in 'publish or be damned' and perhaps he did not publish as much as be should have done. But his key publications in his special areas of research remain standard references to this day.

Professor David Dyker, SPRU

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