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Carmelo Mesa-Lago

  • Professor Emeritus

Carmelo Mesa-Lago received his PhD in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University in 1968. He joined the faculty of the Department of Economics at the University of Pittsburgh in 1967, where he remained until his retirement in 1999. He served as the 1974-1986 Director of Center for Latin American Studies at Pitt. He was named Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and Latin American Studies in 1980. He was a member of the US National Academy of Social Insurance, the Latin American Academy of Sciences, and the Editorial Board of International Social Security Review and several other academic journals.

He wrote 95 books/monographs and 320 scholarly articles/chapters in books, most dealing with social security. In fact, his decades of dedication to the study of social security systems in Latin America include his first book, Social Security in Latin America: Pressure Groups, Stratification, and Inequality (1978), as well as one of his latest books Evaluation of Four Decades of Pension Privatization in Latin America, 1980-2020: Promises and Reality (2021). His work has been published in nine languages in 34 countries. He also served as a consultant in social security for several organizations, including the International Labor Office, International Social Security Association, United Nations Development Program, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank, among others.

His research also resulted in influential policy advice on social security in all Latin American countries, as well as in Bahamas, Barbados, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, Jamaica, Philippines, and Thailand. The impact of his research and policy recommendations has been recognized with multiple awards, including the International Prize on Decent Work given by the ILO for his lifelong work on social protection, an award he shared with Nelson Mandela. Other awards include the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung Senior Prize for outstanding work on social security, the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Senior Research Award, the Sheth Faculty Award for International Achievement, and the Choice award for an outstanding book on social security. He was elected among most influential Iberoamerican intellectuals in 2014.

Read more about his work, and his activities in retirement, in the Spring 2023 issue of our department newsletter.