Economist Prof. Jaromír Vepřek Passed Away

26 February, 2021

With profound regret, CERGE-EI announces that Prof. Jaromír Vepřek, one of the co-founders of the present-day Economics Institute and long-term researcher and valued member of the scientific community of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences and Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, passed away on February 22, 2021, aged nearly 94 years. He is best known among fellow scientists for his work on application of systems analysis methods in the management of health care.

Jaromír Vepřek studied industrial economics at the then University of Economic Sciences in Prague. His postgraduate study took him to the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague where he focused on the economics, organization and planning of the chemical industry. He habilitated in industrial economics and management at the same university in 1969, but due to political reasons had to wait until after the fall of the communist regime in the then Czechoslovakia to finally receive his associate professor title.

Following his graduation from university in 1950, he joined the Economics Engineering Faculty at the Czech Technical University in Prague. Between the years 1957–1966, he worked as Head of Operations Research Group at the Technical-Economic Research Institute, focusing on problems of labor economics, input-output analysis, and linear programming. In January 1967, he joined the research team of the Economics Institute of the former Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, specializing in problems of operation research, systems analysis, organization of science and science policy, and the micro- and macro- problems of economic transition. He taught industrial economics, input-output analysis, systems analysis, and organization and management of research and development to students at several higher education institutions.

Between the years 1970–1990 he served as Editor-in-Chief of the science journal Ekonomicko-matematický obzor (Economics and Mathematics Horizons), and member of the editorial board of Politická ekonomie (Political Economics) and Teorie vědy (Theory of Science), becoming Editor-in-Chief of the former in February 1990. 

In the 1990s, Prof. Vepřek contributed significantly to the—as yet unfinished—transformation of the local health care system from a system financed and managed by the state to a multiple governance, pluralized system of public health care. The implementation of the political decision to de-nationalize the public health care system was impeded by a lack of experience, knowledge and information sharing. To remedy this, Prof. Vepřek brought together a group of specialists from all sectors of the health care system, and CERGE-EI became a hub for the creation of concept materials for a number of health care ministers. In 1993, he launched a monthly health care seminar series at CERGE-EI, where health care, insurance, public service and industry professionals together with patient representatives fine-tuned proposals for individual reform steps and sought common ground.

Prof. Vepřek served as Deputy Director for Research at CERGE-EI from 1994 until his retirement in 1996. His son Dr. Pavel Vepřek continues to run the health care seminar series (currently interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic). The most recent publication output of the seminar series, entitled "Health Care 2.0: The Minister’s Manual", was published before the last parliamentary election. Jaromír Vepřek, whilst "retired", remained active and continued to dedicate much of his time to the issues of health care management. His publication "A Report on the Treatment of the Czech Health Care System", which he co-authored with his son at the turn of the millennium, remains highly topical to this day.

CERGE-EI expresses its deepest sympathy to Prof. Jaromír Vepřek’s family and friends.