In Memoriam: Professor John Knight

It is with deep sorrow that we hear of the passing of Professor Emeritus John Knight, a distinguished member of the Department of Economics and St Edmund Hall. John served as the first Head of Department for Economics and was co-founder of the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), University of Oxford.


We are immeasurably proud to have had Professor Knight serve as our first Head of Department when the Department of Economics was formalised in 2000. His extensive career focused on development economics, education, labour markets, inequality, and happiness. Recent works, including the articles 'Is happiness infectious?' and 'China’s Remarkable Economic Growth', underscored his ongoing commitment to understanding complex economic and social dynamics.


As a co-founder of the CSAE, Professor Knight helped to bring African development to the foreground of research at the University of Oxford. He was extremely active in the world of development economics, writing early seminal papers on labour markets in Africa and then moving on to specialise further in China. Professor Knight continued his connection with the Centre into his retirement, visiting Oxford to work with colleagues, and contributing to the CSAE Working Papers series (his latest paper ‘New integrated concepts and measures of income poverty and of 'common prosperity' in China’ was published in November 2023).


Beyond his professional accomplishments, Professor Knight will be remembered for his mentorship and inspiration. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and colleagues during this challenging time. As the Department of Economics marks its 25th anniversary this year, let us honour and reflect on the profound legacy of Professor John Knight—a dedicated scholar and mentor. It is without doubt that our department would not have been the same without him.


Professor Knight's Funeral will take place at 14:00 on Friday 9 February at the North Oxfordshire Crematorium, and afterwards there will be a wake held at Sturdy's Castle. The family also intend to have a memorial service later in the year which will celebrate Professor Knight's life and academic successes. St Edmund Hall will hold a memorial service (date yet TBC) to celebrate his life and contributions to the College and Oxford more widely during his lifetime. We will more share information about both memorials shortly.