Lawrence Klein, a former University professor, Nobel laureate and pioneer in economic forecasting, died Sunday in his Gladwyne, Pa., home. He was 93.
Klein rose to prominence for his work studying the macroeconomy and developing statistical models to predict future economic conditions. While teaching at Penn, he developed the famous Wharton model of the United States economy — which contains over a thousand equations solved simultaneously, according to the Library of Economics and Liberty.
He began teaching in Penn’s economics department in 1958 and started teaching at the Wharton School about a decade later. He retired from full-time teaching at the University in 1991.
In 1980, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics — the field’s most prestigious honor — “for the creation of econometric models and the application to the analysis of economic fluctuations and economic policies.”
“Klein has, to a high degree, stimulated research on econometric forecasting models and on the possibilities of using such models for practical analysis of economic policies,” the 1980 Nobel press release read. “Few, if any, research workers in the empirical field of economic science have had so many successors and such a large impact as Lawrence Klein.”
In the 1940s, Klein developed models of the American economy that correctly predicted the postwar boom in consumer demand that led to a period of lasting prosperity — flying in the face of the conventional expectation that the war would cause an economic downturn.
In the 1940s and early 1950s, Klein taught at the University of Michigan, but was denied tenure there in the heat of McCarthyism. (He was a member of the Communist party from 1946 and 1947.) He then taught at the University of Oxford, where he developed a model of the British economy.
He was also a lead coordinator of the LINK project, which brought together economists throughout the world and allowed for expanded study of the interactions among national economies.
In 1976, Klein was the coordinator of President Jimmy Carter’s economic task force in the lead-up to the election, although he declined an invitation to join the Carter administration, according to Wharton’s website.
Klein received his undergraduate degree in 1942 from the University of California, Berkeley and received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology two years later.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Klein’s models are still employed by the Federal Reserve, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among others.
City News Editor Sarah Smith contributed reporting.Comments powered by Disqus
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