Lawrence R. Klein: Nobel
Prize in Economics Recipient:
by Seymour “Sy” Brody
Lawrence R. Klein was an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics, in 1980, for the creation of econometric models and the application to the analysis of economic fluctuations and economic policies.
He was born on September 14, 1920, in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents were Blanche (Monheit) and Leo Byron Klein and they had three children. Lawrence Klein received his early education in the school system of Omaha. It was in high school that he became interested in mathematics, English, foreign languages and history.
Klein received his B.A. degree, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of California, Berkeley, in economics, in 1942. He then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and received his Ph.D. degree, in economics, in 1944.
He then went to the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics, which was located in the University of Chicago. It was here that he built a model of the United States economy to forecast the development of business fluctuations and to study the effect of government economic-political policy.
When World War II ended, Klein used this model to correctly predict, against the prevailing expectation, that there would be an economic upturn rather than a depression. Again, using the same model, he correctly predicted a mild recession when the Korean War ended.
When Senator Joseph McCarthy started his ant-communist witch-hunt, Klein lost his tenure at the University of Michigan and in 1954 he moved to England. He went to the University of Oxford where he developed a model of the United Kingdom economy. He returned to the United States, in 1958, to join the Department of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1968, he became the “Benjamin Franklin Professor of Economics and Finance,” at their Wharton School.
Lawrence Klein was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, one of the two most prestigious awards in the field of economics, in 1959.
In 1976, Klein was the coordinator of President Jimmy Carter’s economic task force. He declined an invitation to join President Carter’s administration. In 1977, Klein had become president of the Econometric Society and the American Economic Association.
Klein retired from teaching in 1991. He occasionally taught some classes at the universities in Japan. He has received honorary degrees from 25 universities. He is currently active in macro econometric model building.
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Last updated 18 July 2008