Mr. Rodrik, who maintains his Turkish citizenship and is married to a Turkish woman who also teaches at Harvard, is descended from a family of Sephardic Jews who migrated to Turkey from Spain five centuries ago. During his senior year at a private high school in Istanbul, he applied to Harvard, mostly for the adventure of it, and was accepted.
“Like most Turks of my generation I thought I would end up doing engineering,” he said. But at Harvard, “a new world opened for me and I started to understand that the problems of underdevelopment were not technical problems in the sense of a lack of engineers or a lack of doctors. It was a problem of social organization.”