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Fisher, Irving (27 February 1867–29 April 1947), economist, was born in Saugerties, New York, the son of George Whitefield Fisher, a minister, and Ella Westcott. One of four children, he was the oldest who survived childhood. The family lived for twelve years in Peace Dale, Rhode Island, where his father occupied the Congregational pulpit, then moved to Missouri. His father, who had studied divinity at Yale, died of tuberculosis just a few months before Fisher himself began as an undergraduate there in 1884. Fisher helped to support the family with prize scholarships and income from tutoring. At his graduation in 1888, he was awarded $500 per year for postgraduate study. He also earned money in other ways, such as a summer (1890) spent near St. Paul tutoring the sons of J. J. Hill, the railroad baron. He wrote at the time that Hill’s enormous wealth was thoroughly justified, since he trebled the value of his railroad and provided an immense benefit to farmers “through his special sagacity.” Later he repented of his enthusiasm, calling Hill “a shrewd man but unreliable to the last degree.”...

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See Galbraith, John Kenneth

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Galbraith, John Kenneth (15 October 1908–29 April 2006), and John Kenneth Galbraith (15 October 1908–29 April 2006), economist and author, was born in Iona Station, Ontario, Canada, to Archibald Galbraith and Sarah Catherine Kendall. Galbraith, who advanced and reinterpreted institutionalist and Keynesian traditions in economics while promoting a liberal and progressive political agenda, was arguably the best-known and most influential economist and public intellectual of his generation. He published dozens of books, served in a number of high-level government positions, and, as a faculty member at Harvard University for more than a quarter of a century, advised every Democratic president from ...

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Henderson, Leon (26 May 1895–19 October 1986), economist and government official, was born in Millville, New Jersey, the son of Chester Henderson, a glass factory worker, and Lida Beebe. When Leon was twelve years old, his father bought a farm with the family’s savings, leaving nothing for Henderson’s further education. While working odd jobs, Henderson graduated from Millville High School in 1913. After a semester at the University of Pennsylvania (having dropped out because of money problems), and with the help of a scholarship, he enrolled at Swarthmore college in 1915. When the United States entered World War I, Henderson enlisted in the army. Discharged in 1919, he returned to Swarthmore, graduating in 1920. From 1920 to 1922 he was a graduate student in economics at the University of Pennsylvania and then became an assistant professor of economics at Carnegie Institute of Technology. Next he joined the administration of Pennsylvania governor ...

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Johnson, Alvin Saunders (18 December 1874–07 June 1971), economist, educator, and journalist, was born near Homer, Dakota County, Nebraska, the son of John Johnson and Edel Maria Katrina Bille, farmers. Johnson’s father emigrated from Denmark to the United States in 1849 with the name Jens Jensen Deyrup; the immigration officer gave him the name John Johnson. Johnson’s mother emigrated from Denmark in 1867. By the time she arrived in Nebraska, John had fought in the Civil War and outlived two other wives, who had left him with five children. Johnson’s parents subsequently had three more children....

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Leontief, Wassily (05 August 1906–05 February 1999), economist, was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, the son of Wassily W. Leontief, an economics professor, and Eugenia Bekker Leontief. Young Wassily was a precocious child who managed to withstand the political turmoil surrounding his early years, as various radical groups attempted to end tsarist rule. In 1917, under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin, revolutionaries succeeded in deposing the monarchy. Four years later, at the age of fifteen, Wassily Leontief entered the University of Saint Petersburg, now called the University of Leningrad to reflect the new name of his birthplace. There he studied economics and became something of a counterrevolutionary, as he joined with other students to protest restrictions of the Communist government on intellectual freedom, and he was jailed on several occasions. In 1925, after four years of study and the receipt of a master's degree, Leontief developed a tumor that was thought to be malignant. He was allowed to leave the country for treatment, and he emigrated to Berlin; his parents joined him there soon afterward. Leontief's medical condition proved benign, and he enrolled at the University of Berlin, where he completed his doctorate in economics in 1928. In 1927–1928 he was employed at the Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Institute for World Economics), a research institution at the University of Kiel, where he focused on supply‐and‐demand curves. In 1929, at the invitation of the Chinese government, he traveled to Nanking, China, and served as an economic adviser to the Chinese Ministry of Railroads. Leontief resumed his research at the University of Kiel the following year; then, in 1930, he emigrated to the United States. He was hired by the private, nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research, the preeminent organization in his field in the United States. In the New York City office of the National Bureau he began research on the American economy, then in the early stages of the Great Depression that would soon engulf the world....

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Newcomb, Simon (12 March 1835–11 July 1909), mathematical astronomer and political economist, was born in Wallace, Nova Scotia, the son of John Burton Newcomb, an itinerant schoolteacher, and Emily Prince. Through reading and home instruction, young Newcomb gained a solid, basic education, though he spent long hours working on neighboring farms. At age sixteen he became an apprentice to a New Brunswick herbal “doctor.” Increasingly disillusioned with the herbalist, he ended the agreement after two years by fleeing to the United States. (Descended from New Englanders, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1864.)...

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Schultz, Theodore W. (30 April 1902–26 February 1998), economist, was born Theodore William Schultz on a farm near Arlington, South Dakota, to Herry E. Schultz, a farmer, and Anna E. Weiss Schultz. The eldest of eight children who were all expected to work on the family farm, young Theodore had a sporadic early education and never attended high school. Over his parents' objections, he enrolled at South Dakota State College when he was in his early twenties and earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics in 1926. He went on to graduate study in the same field at the University of Wisconsin, where he received a master's degree two years later and a Ph.D. in 1930. Schultz later noted that he had been born when times were especially hard for farmers, and from an early age he wanted to find a way to improve the situation of his parents and their farm neighbors. Understanding economics, he came to believe, was the key to improving their circumstances....

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Taussig, Frank William (28 December 1859–11 November 1940), economist, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of William Taussig, a physician and businessman, and Adele Wuerpel. Raised in an educated and culture-loving environment in which the appreciation of music, art, and literature was encouraged, Taussig became an accomplished violinist as a child....

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von Mises, Ludwig (29 September 1881–10 October 1973), economist and social philosopher, was born Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises in Lemberg, Austria-Hungary (today, Lviv, Ukraine), the son of Arthur von Mises, a railroad engineer and civil servant, and Adele von Mises, born Adele Landau. Von Mises was still a small boy when his family moved to Vienna. In 1892 he entered the ...

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Weaver, Robert C. (29 December 1907–17 July 1997), economist, political administrator, and educator, was born Robert Clifton Weaver in Washington, D.C., the son of Mortimer Grover Weaver, a postal clerk, and Florence Freeman Weaver. Weaver grew up in a middle-class and educated family, one of seven African-American families in a Washington suburb. His father worked for the post office. (One grandfather, ...

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White, Harry Dexter (09 October 1892–16 August 1948), Treasury Department official and moving force in the establishment of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Sarah Magilewski and Jacob White, Jews who had emigrated to America from Lithuania shortly before he was born. Following his graduation from high school, White worked in the family hardware business until World War I broke out, at which time he became a volunteer in the army. Commissioned as a first lieutenant, he served in France but did not engage in combat. Just before going overseas, White married Russian-born Anne Terry, who later became a successful writer of children’s books. They had two daughters....