Remembrance: Alan Krueger

Alan Krueger, Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Policy, in his office in the Louis A. Simpson International Building. August 2017.

Heather Boushey, Executive Director and Chief Economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, issued the following statement in reaction to the death of Princeton University economist Alan B. Krueger:

We at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Alan Krueger. He was devoted to serving the public and to ensuring that economics was not only about theory but about improving people’s lives. His contributions to the discipline and to our country were at the heart of why Equitable Growth exists and the work we do.

Alan’s groundbreaking work with David Card used new data and methods that showed the overall, mainly positive, impact of increases in the minimum wage—a finding at odds with prevailing theory that changed the way we think about the economy and economics. As a pioneer in the use of natural experiments as the basis for economic research, his work helped create a paradigm shift in the discipline itself, from a focus on economic modeling to a focus on how real people and real institutions are affected by changes in policy and in the economy.

Today, economists can’t imagine the discipline without this kind of work. The lessons learned from the advances in economics in-no-small-part pioneered by Alan underlay much of the cutting edge of economics—and the work we do at Equitable Growth to show how inequality affects economic growth. Alan gets a huge amount of the credit for this fundamental change. Over his career, Alan made economics much more useful to policymakers and helped change the way policy is developed and debated.

Alan believed it was important to engage in public service. His work during the Obama Administration contributed enormously to our nation’s emergence from the Great Recession. As a mentor to me and to many other economists, Alan emphasized the value of serving the public. Providing me career advice once, he said he couldn’t imagine not having had the opportunity to serve—and expressed his joy at having had more than one chance to do so.

Alan Krueger believed economics—and economists—should advance knowledge and serve people. He helped make the discipline a little bit less about theory and a lot more about figuring out how the economy actually works for people and maximizing its benefits for all, not just a few. This organization, and I personally, will miss him a great deal.

March 19, 2019


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