He forgot about Hawtrey

by on April 6, 2009 at 4:26 pm in Data Source | Permalink

Ezra reports, from his commentator Nylund:

Is it just me or do famous economists seem to live a really long time?

Friedman (94)
Mises (92)
John Kenneth Galbraith (98)
Hayek (92)
Leontief (93)

…besides Keynes (or any of the really old school guys like
Ricardo and Say), its rare to find a major economist that didn't make
it well into their 80's.

Samuelson is in his 90s and Ken Arrow is 87.  Buchanan, Tullock, Coase, and Vernon Smith are all still with us and I wonder if Gary Becker might prove immortal.  Frank Ramsey is one obvious exception, as is Miguel Sidrauski.  Fischer Black and Amos Tversky are two more recent exceptions.  Here is a paper on 16 notable economists who died prematurely.

1 eh April 6, 2009 at 4:31 pm

North is 88.

2 Chip April 6, 2009 at 4:51 pm

And Coase is no spring chicken.

3 Brad Hansen April 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm

If I remember right Doug won’t be 88 until November 5. Hayek, on the other hand, I beleive lived to 102 not 92.

4 Yancey Ward April 6, 2009 at 5:04 pm

I was having lunch the other day with Adam Smith when this subject came up…..

5 johnleemk April 6, 2009 at 5:13 pm

He wasn’t quite as influential, but Charles Tiebout of the Tiebout model (suggesting market solutions to the free rider problem) died suddenly at the age of 43: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Tiebout

6 assman April 6, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Famous economists will be at least 40 in order to receive their PHDs, do some important work and get noticed. So the relevant number for comparison is not average American lifespan but instead the lifespan conditional on surviving to the age of 40.

In the book, Statistics As Principled Argument they analyze a similar study which showed that musical conductors have longer lifespan.

7 Jay April 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm

I would say from experience understanding the sunk cost fallacy reduces stress, which should add years to ones life.

8 Jason Malloy April 6, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Three of those economists won the Nobel, and one was nominated. Not only do those who win the Nobel live longer than average, they even live longer than Nobel nominees, by 1 or 2 years.

9 Scott Wood April 6, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Mancur Olson died at 65.

10 Hayek April 6, 2009 at 7:20 pm

It’s been great shooting the bull with the other guys. They convinced me to admit I was wrong about the road to serfdom.


They also assure me that the weather models are more reliable than the financial models.

11 Hazlitt April 6, 2009 at 7:54 pm

Some runs are longer than others.

Mine is longer than Keynes.

(1894 – 1993)

12 Nancy Lebovitz April 6, 2009 at 8:11 pm

It’s not just a matter starting with men who’ve lived to be 40, it’s men who’ve been healthy enough to start a distinguished career.

13 Eric April 6, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Charles Kindleberger lived into his 90s.

14 Sean April 7, 2009 at 12:06 am

Other excellent economists who died way too young
Richard McKelvey (57)
Bruce Smith (47)
Sydney Siegel (45)

Other older guys not yet mentioned
Lloyd Shapley (85+)
Martin Shubik (83+)
Roy Radner (81+)
John Nash (80+)
Herbert Simon (84)
Leo Hurwicz (90)
Gerard Debreu (83)
Leon Walras (75) (that was old 100 years ago)
Francis Edgeworth (81)

15 derrida derider April 7, 2009 at 1:22 am

Frank Ramsey died at 26. But then he was really a mathematician (his contributions to philosophy and economics were just bye-the-bye), and they notoriously peak early.

16 D April 7, 2009 at 1:37 am

Don’t longevity and IQ correlate?

Philosophers live long lives, too.

17 Steve Sailer April 7, 2009 at 1:53 am

Most people prominent enough for their obituary to have a headline on LATimes.com appear to be 80-plus, except for ex-rock stars and soldiers killed in Iraq.

18 Mike Moffatt April 7, 2009 at 9:14 am

Lionel McKenzie turned 90 this year. I’m surprised no one from U Rochester has pointed this out yet.

19 libfree April 7, 2009 at 9:59 am

Its not like economists generally live extreme lifestyles.

20 RWBoyd April 7, 2009 at 10:13 am

Of course, Kondratiev died quite young–a victim of the Great Purge.

21 Mike April 7, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Carl Menger lived to be 80 (missed his 81st birthday by two days). W.H. Hutt was 88 when he died. Henry Hazlitt, 98. Frank Fetter was 86. Ludwig Lachman, 84.Fritz Machlup, 81. Gottfied Haberler, 94. Paul Rosensteing-Rodan, 83.Lionel Robbins, 83.GLS Shackle, 89. Philip Wicksteed, 83. Frank Knight was 86 or 87.

22 Chris April 7, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Whoops. That’d be for the first page. The second page gives 80 years. 77 Is the life expectancy from birth, 83 is the life expectancy at 65+, according to


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