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Alan Heston

Professor Emeritus, Economics and South Asia Studies


Ph.D., Economics, Yale University 1962

M.A., Economics, University of Washington 1957

B.A., Economics, University of Oregon 1955


Heston is a professor emeritus in the Department of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has taught since 1962. Prior to teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, Heston was an Assistant Professor at Yale University.

Heston co-directs the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for International Comparisons (CIC). The precursor to CIC was the United Nations’ (UN) International Comparison Programme (ICP), which Heston joined in its first year in 1968. The ICP developed the first systematic multilateral set of purchasing power comparisons. Heston participated in the ICP’s benchmark comparisons and, by 1985, with Summers and Irving Kravis, expanded the number of countries included in the comparison database to 34 countries. That same year Heston and Summers developed benchmark comparisons of gross domestic product estimates on a purchasing power basis for non-benchmark countries for one year. Heston and Summers continued these comparisons and extended the estimates over both time and space in an effort that became the Penn World Table. For that work, Summers and Alan Heston were recognized as American Economic Association Distinguished Fellows in 1998. Heston is considered a leading world expert on international economic comparisons and purchasing power parity.