The IEA was founded in 1950 as a Non Governmental Organization, at the instigation of the Social Sciences Department of UNESCO. It has since its creation maintained information and consultative relations with UNESCO and is since 1973 a federated member of the International Social Science Council.
Its aim from the beginning has been to promote personal contacts and mutual understanding among economists in different parts of the world through the organisation of scientific meetings, through common research programmes and by means of publications of an international character on problems of current importance.
To fulfill its aims, the IEA has always given priority to high scientific standards and has been fortunate in having secured the following outstanding economists to serve as Presidents:
Past presidents of the IEA: 1986 to present
Click here for the Statutes of the International Economic Association.
The Statutes of the Association set no limits to the range of the Association's possible activities other than the insistence that its objectives should be strictly scientific.
The IEA is in effect a federation of national academic associations or committees representing the economists of each country. It does not have individual members. Its Member Associations at the present time number 69 (including fifteen associate members and one regional member). This does not however mean that economists from countries which are not represented by a Member Association do not take part in the IEA's work and meetings. In the implementation of each project, invitations are sent to those individuals or research institutes - regardless of nationality - which appear in the circumstances to be best qualified to make a serious contribution to the study of the subject chosen.
The IEA is governed by a Council, composed of representatives of all Member Associations as well as a limited number of co-opted members. The Council meets triennially when it reviews the general policy of the Association and elects the President and other Officers and members of the Executive Committee for a three-year term of office.
The Executive Committee, which numbers 15 members, decides, in the light of the general policies approved by the Council, the subjects of specialists' conferences and other projects and selects the chairman of the Programme Committee who will be entrusted with the scientific preparation of each project. The general practice is to invoke the aid of an economist of outstanding distinction in the subject who, with other members of the Committee chosen by him in consultation with the IEA Officers and Executive Committee, undertakes the scientific planning of the programme and is responsible for the subsequent publication. Between the annual meetings of the Executive Committee, decisions concerning the work of the Association are taken by the President, in consultation with the other Officers, the Executive Committee frequently being consulted by letter.
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The main task of the Secretariat is to see that liaison is maintained between the different organs of the Association, which it does largely by correspondence. It carries out the preparatory work for the reaching of decisions and assures their execution. It undertakes, in collaboration with the host country, the practical organisation of the conferences and administrative meetings, and keeps in close touch with the Programme Committees for each project on hand.
"Regional" conferences have been held in various parts of the world to study problems particular to the region, while "East-West" conferences have provided an opportunity for economists from Eastern and Western Europe to meet and discuss problems of common interest.
Particular attention has been paid also to problems of concern to developing countries by devoting whole conferences or sections of conferences and congresses to these problems. In the case of the developing countries considerable efforts have been made, often with the help of subsidies from Unesco, the World Bank and the European Commission and international organisations to facilitate the participation of economists from these countries in the work of the IEA.
In essence, the activities of the IEA during the 61 years of its existence may be summed up as follows:
1. The organisation of 107 specialists' conferences of a round-table type and the publication of 146 volumes of proceedings.
2. The organisation of fifteen open international congresses: Rome 1956, Vienna 1962, Montreal 1968, Budapest 1974, Tokyo 1977, Mexico 1980, Madrid 1983, New Delhi 1986, Athens 1989, Moscow 1992, Tunis 1995, Buenos Aires 1999, Lisbon, 2002, Marrakech, 2005, Istanbul, Turkey, June 2008 and Beijing, China, July 2011. Each of the first four Congresses was followed by one volume of proceedings, that of Tokyo by five, Mexico by five, Madrid by four, New Delhi by five, Athens by five, Moscow by five, Tunis by six, Buenos Aires by three, Lisbon by four. Marrakech by two.