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About Zeke

Thanks for visiting my website.

I'm the Max and Bernice Garchik Family Presidential Associate Professor at the Wharton School. My research linking immigration to investment and economic growth has won multiple prizes, including an unprecedented three emerging scholar awards from the top academic associations in his field. I'm also one of the highest rated teachers at Wharton, a Poets & Quants Best business professor in the world, and one of the youngest recipients of a presidential professorship at the University of Pennsylvania.

I was born in Uruguay, a small country obsessed with soccer, yerba mate, and steak. When I was four, I moved abroad with my family because of my father's work. We lived in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Argentina for several years, returning to Uruguay when I was a teenager. These experiences planted the seeds of my abiding interest in how the mobility of people, ideas, and firms affects economies and societies.

After completing high school in Uruguay, I spent two years on a service mission in Buenos Aires. Those years spanned the leadup to the deepest economic crisis in Argentina's history. I witnessed grueling poverty and suffering in some of the most destitute neighborhoods of the city (the infamous "villas"). It all made a deep impression on me, awakening a desire to understand what leads to economic prosperity.

After completing my mission, I attended Brigham Young University. After graduating with a bachelor's and master's in Accounting, I worked at IBM for a short period. The job was fine, but a corporate career didn't offer the chance to deeply study the questions that had been gnawing at me since those years in Buenos Aires: what really creates prosperity for people and societies?

In search of answers, I quit my job and enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Minnesota. I never set out to study immigration. I just wanted to know how economic growth happens. But the more I studied economic and sociological models, the more I was left with the feeling that something elemental was missing from how most people think of economic growth--as an accumulation of "inputs" like talent, labor, and ideas.

One day, during a sleepless night in which I was stressed about an exam, it struck me that movement was missing from most models of economic growth. From what I'd seen growing up, successful societies accumulated prized "inputs" when people moved across borders. After all, people are the carriers of ideas, capital, skills, and so much more. That simple thought was the beginning of a powerful realization: migration, or the movement of people, is essential to prosperity.

That was nearly 20 years ago. Since then, I've dedicated my career to studying how people's moves affect our lives and our livelihoods. I'm excited to share what I've learned through my forthcoming book, my newsletter, and all the resources on this website. I also look forward to your feedback and ideas.

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Zeke's Research & Wharton Bio

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