prof.dr. J.P.H. (Jan-Pieter) Smits - Expertise

Smits, prof.dr. J.P.H.
Address :
Technische Universiteit Eindhoven
P.O. Box 513
Chair :
Quantification of Sustainability
Department :
Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences
Section :
Technology, Innovation & Society
Positioncategory :
Professor (HGL)
Position :
Full Professor
Room :
IPO 2.29
Email :

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  • D34300 - Modern and contemporary history
  • E15000 - Environmental studies
  • E13000 - Development studies
  • Sustainability, Quality of Life, Well-being, Economic history, long-term economicn growth



Work experience

Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek): 2007 – present

From 2007-2011 onwards I have been working as a senior statistical researcher at the research department of macroeconomic statistics and from 2012 onwards at the department of national accounts (2012-present). My work is focused on the measurement and analysis of well-being and sustainable development. I am responsible for the development of new statistics and publications in the field of human well-being and sustainable development, and my tasks also focus on maintaining crucial external relations with international institutes (United Nations, OECD, European Commission) and policy makers (especially the ministries of Economic Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Infrastructure and the Environment). I am project leader of the Sustainability Monitor for the Netherlands, a project in which Statistics Netherlands works with three government policy institutes (CPB, SCP, PBL) to give bi-annual updates of where the Netherlands is standing in terms of their well-being and sustainable development. The aim of this project also is to influence policy making in the field of sustainable development (see: I am also active as special advisor to the special committee of the Dutch parliament which focuses on research into ways to go ‘beyond GDP’ and to arrive at better indicators on which government policies can be based.

University of Groningen (RUG): 1998 – 2011

In the period 1998-2006 I worked as a post-doctoral researcher, and from 2007-2011 as assistant professor. My research and teaching strongly focused on the analysis of long-term economic growth in general, and the relationship between technological change and productivity growth in particular. In this research there was a special focus on well-being effects of economic growth, including sustainability issues. My tasks included:

• Teaching. Giving several bachelor courses, master courses and lectures in PhD courses (see below). Besides, I build a complete new course on ‘long term economic growth’, which started as a small course with a group of only 12 students. In five years time 120 students followed this course.

• Supervising ca. 20 bachelor students, ca. 10 master student and two PhD-students; Copromotor of two PhD-students; Member of five promotion commissions • Research coordinator Historical National Accounts of the Netherlands (1993-1998) • As research coordinator I was responsible for guiding twelve AIO’s in their work in the measurement of parts of the historical national accounts of the Netherlands. I was primarily responsible to consolidate all the different estimates within one coherent, integrated framework of accounts.

Utrecht University (UU): 1993 – 1998

I have been working as a post-doctoral researcher in the field of historical national accounts. Besides, I have been teaching courses on economic history and international economics.

Other professional experience

International Taskforces and Working Groups on Sustainable Development (2009-present)

From August 2015 onwards I act as the co-chair of the UNECE/OECD/Eurostat Taskforce on the implementation of the CES Framework and its relation to the Sustainable Development Goals.

From June 2015 onward I am a member of the Inter Agency Expert Group, a global forum existing of 24 members, responsible for developing the measurement system which is linked to the newly defined Sustainable Development Goals.

In the period 2009-2013 I was co-chair and co-editor of the Task Force for Measuring Sustainable Development. This Taskforce (formed by United Nations, European Commission/Eurostat/OECD/World Bank and ten statistical agencies) has established a framework on how to measure human well-being and sustainable development. This framework has been endorsed by almost sixty countries. The OECD has already partly implemented the findings of this Taskforce. The TFSD recommendations also play an important role in the discussion of the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which are about to be defined as part of the Post-2015 agenda.

From 2012-2014 I was one of the Coordinators of the FP7 E-Frame programme (with R. Hoekstra and colleagues from the Italian Statistical Bureau). The European Framework for Measuring Progress (E-frame) project was aimed at forming a European network of statisticians, academics and researchers from policy institutes to foster the debate on social progress, well-being and sustainable development. Apart from the technical statistical work on measurement issues, contacts were established with policy makers at a national level (ministries of economic affairs and infrastructure & environment), the European level (European Commission) and internationally (OECD, United Nations). At the final conference of e-Frame, the main findings were presented to the EU Commissioner for Environment Affairs, Potoznic. (See also ‘other research output’)

Sustainability Monitor of the Netherlands (2007-present)

In 2007 the Dutch government asked Statistics Netherlands to produce a sustainability Monitor for the Netherlands, working together with three government policy institutes on economic (CPB), social (SCP) and environmental affairs (PBL). Until now three editions have been published, of which I have been project leader (the first monitor with R. Hoekstra). Also large parts of the manuscript have been written by me.

Gradually this Monitor is getting more attention by politicians and society at large. One of the results of the work I did for this sustainability monitor, is that Dutch parliament has decided to form a special commission to investigate the concept of well-being and how to measure it. I wrote a preliminary Report on the basis of which Statistics Netherlands will get funding for one or two senior statistical researchers who will write an extensive report on the issues of GDP and beyond in the period 2015-2016. I will co-ordinate this research.

Another spin-off of the Dutch sustainability monitor will be the indicator set to measure the Dutch sustainable development goals. The broad global set has been defined september 2015, but now several regions and countries in the world will define their own specific subsets. With input from the Ministries of Foreign affairs, Economic Affairs and Infrastructure & Environment, I will build this indicator set in 2015-2016, a set which is will play a key role in Dutch policy. (See also ‘other research output’)

Research coordination in the field of historical national accounting & long-term economic growth (1998-2011)

In the period 1998-2010 I have been working on building a system of historical national accounts for the Netherlands. After having completed this dataset in 2001, in my capacity of vice president of the Groningen Growth and Development Centre I broadened the scope of this quantitative research by extending the database and adding macroeconomic key indicators for a large number of countries in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia. This database on comparative historical national accounts (covering the period ca. 1870-present) enables better analyses of long-term economic growth in an international comparative framework. This has become one of the leading datasets on comparative long-term economic growth. (see also ‘other research output’)

In the period 2002-2011 I was Programme leader in the N.W. Posthumus Institute (post graduate institute for economic and social history) on “Growth strategies in Europe compared with East Asia” (with J. Th. Lindblad; 2002-2005) and of its follow-up, the programme “Globalisation, technical change, institutional development and economic growth” (with J.W. Schot, 2006-2011), coordinating the research of a group of ca. 40 researchers and defining new research areas.

Education and training

PhD Research 1989-1995

PhD Research at the Free University (VU) in Amsterdam and training at the Dutch research school for social and economic history (N.W. Posthumus Institute).

PhD thesis: Economische groei en structurele veranderingen in de Nederlandse dienstensector. De rol van handel en transport in het proces van ‘moderne economische groei’ (VU Amsterdam, 1995)

“Doctoraal” History 1984-1989

Doctoraal study History at the Free University (VU) Amsterdam, with specialisation in economic and social history. Graduated (cum laude, with hounours) on a thesis on the development of size and structure of employment in the Dutch service sector, 1850-1913.