Arthur Goldberger passes away at 79

by on December 14, 2009 at 5:15 pm in Economics | Permalink

On December, 11, I have not been able to find an obituary.  One reader wrote me the news, plus it appears on a blog, in Gary King's tweet, and on Wikipedia.

1 SEM December 14, 2009 at 5:33 pm

He is still listed on the UW Economics Department’s website ( They didn’t even provide an announcement on their website.

2 jh December 14, 2009 at 7:14 pm

His quote about classical and Bayesian econometrics is still one of my favorite economics quotes.

3 stanfo December 14, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Studied his econometrics textbook. I feel that it is very good, which is perhaps the highest compliment I could give him.

4 nina December 15, 2009 at 12:46 am

We’re working on the obit. It’s a difficult one to write. Should be done in the next couple of days.

5 Joe Cordes December 15, 2009 at 8:54 am

I agree with all that has been said. Art was an outstanding graduate instructor as well. The basic econometric theory sequence Econ 715 and 716 was a remarkable experience. Each week we would get homework assignments, and if we did them (they were optional) we would invariably go into class and discover that what we had worked on over the weekend was the basis for that week’s class. It really helped one master the material. Indeed, I was called upon to teach an applied econometrics course for public policy students some 30+ years later and discovered to my amazement that the approach of Econ 715 and 716 was still fresh and relevant.

I can also second the comments about him as a person. The Yiddish word, “mensch” would certainly apply to him.

6 tim smeeding December 16, 2009 at 12:14 am

Art has been sick for a number of months , and many of us visited him regularly. His daughter Nina wrote the following nessagre to his good pals.

May this geat man rest in peace

It is with a very sad heart that I write this email to you all. After a long 28 weeks of ups and downs, we finally have a very sad ending to my dad’s struggle. Dad died at 8:30 this Friday evening December 11th. We learned late last week that dad had some very extensive damage to his heart from the blood bacteria that had attached itself to his heart valves. A cardiovascular surgeon was called in to assess the situation but he felt it was hopeless given the damage that had been done in the short time and dad’s weakened condition. Dad had already decided for himself that he had gone through too much and wanted it to end. We talked to everyone we could to find out if anything could be done and even if it could, dad was finished. He had had enough. He fought such a strong, brave fight. He came through pancreatitis and was told he never would. We were astounded to find someone with no heart issues would die from that. He did not want anyone to know this was going on because he couldn’t stand having to say goodbye to all of you who have stood by him through his illness and have been a friend for so many years. Dad was alert until he was taken off the ventilator on Friday evening and then he was heavily medicated to keep him comfortable. We decided the best place for him to be was at Select where he had been taken such good care of over the past 7 months. The staff was so wonderful and gentle and I can’t say enough about them. Throughout the evening, there was a steady stream of staff stopping in to say goodbye and telling him how much he meant to them. Even his doctor was present. I have never known anyone as strong as he was and I am so proud to have been able to go through this battle with him. We were all able to be with him when he died. I also can’t thank all of you enough for all the incredible support you have given him and us during this time. You stood by him and kept your support and love and prayers through his whole long illness. He has some amazing friends and was so lucky to have all of you in his life. We will have a service for him soon after the holidays and I will let you know as soon as I know when that will be.


7 michael olneck December 16, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Art welcomed me with open arms when I arrived in Madison in 1975. I still remember him coming around the corner as I was waiting for the elevator on the 6th floor of Social Sciences my first week here, and his greeting me enthusiastically and warmly.

During my early years here, when I was active in IRP, Art and I spent many enjoyable hours talking, particularly about the follies of the likes of Herrnstein, Murray, and other dogmatic hereditarians.

I had hoped that after I retired last year, I might renew my contact with Art, and have an occasional coffee together. I am sorry that will not happen, and I will miss him.

8 Nicole Kaufman December 17, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Apparently his full obit will appear this Sunday in the WI State Journal.
He will definitely be missed!! He was brilliant and such a kind person.

9 Bob December 18, 2009 at 8:54 am has a link to an obit. I saw it yesterday.

10 Ben December 18, 2009 at 9:17 pm

I took Dr. Goldberger’s course as an undergrad at Wisconsin in 1994, and his furor convinced me to pursue my PhD and a career in econometrics. I fondly remember his thoughts on micronumerosity and rant against R-squared. I’m very sorry to hear his passing.

11 George Bohrnstedt December 20, 2009 at 12:37 pm

The obiturary that ran on Art is copied below.

I got to know Art when I was a post-doc in sociology at Wisconsin in the late 1960s when I needed help in figuring out the covariance of product variables since I was interested in figuring out the effects of measurement error on products of random variables. He suggested some references and then worked with me on the problem that led to a paper that eventually was published in JASA. Art wanted to know more about how educational pscyhologists treated measurement error so I showed him Lord and Novick’s classic book on the subject. He got very interested in it so I also introduced him to the work that Karl Joreskog was doing on structural equation models with their focus on latent constructs. That eventually lead to Art and Dudley Duncan putting together a heady conference on communalities across economics, educational pscyhology and sociology (path analysis) on the use of structural equation models. He also wrote a paper on the subject that was published in Pscyhometrika. We only saw each other occasionally after I left Madison, but whenever our paths crossed he would state his appreciation that I had introduced him to the work of Joreskog. Art was the best teacher I ever had even though I never took a course from him. Here is the obituary.

Goldberger, Arthur Stanley
Arthur Stanley Goldberger died on Friday, Dec. 11, 2009, at Select Specialty Hospital in Madison just after his 79th birthday. Art was a preeminent economist who taught at the University of Wisconsin from 1960-1999. His academic prominence was primarily in the technical field of econometrics, and his research often used advanced statistical methods, but he was widely noted and praised for his clarity of writing and for his pedagogic skills. He won numerous teaching awards. A leading journal in econometrics referred to his graduate-level text book, “Econometric Theory” as a “landmark that set a new standard of rigor in econometrics.” His research often dealt with controversial public issues such as the measurement of race and sex discrimination in labor markets, the heritability of intelligence, and the comparative effectiveness of public and private schooling at primary and secondary levels. His research in statistical methods and in the analysis of public policies were influential across the social sciences-economics, sociology, psychology, and the overlap between statistics and genetics. The breadth of his achievements was recognized in his many and diverse professional honors. He was a fellow of the Econometric Society, the American Statistical Association, the Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and twice was a Guggenheim fellow. He is a distinguished fellow of the American Economic Association and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1985, he gave the Woytinsky Lecture at the University of Michigan. The citation of all of Art’s achievements cannot however begin to express the extent of the admiration and affection for him by his students and colleagues, across many departments. Throughout his career he expressed a generosity, a commitment to integrity, and informality in the service of his family, friends, community and profession. As for his personal life, Art was born on Nov. 20, 1930, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to David and Martha Goldberger. He loved to play tennis and volleyball, enjoyed gardening, crossword puzzles – specifically the cryptic puzzles, reading, listening to music, his friendships, daily trips to the coffee shop, and his cat, Plum. His quick wit, good nature, warmth, thoughtful and easy-going personality created many lifelong friends. Art was most proud of his family. He was married to Iefke Engelsman Goldberger for almost 50 years. Iefke died in May 2007. Their admiration, love and respect for each other remained constant throughout their lives. Art is survived by his daughter, Nina; his son, Nick; their respective spouses, Jeff and Carol; and Nina’s son, Jake. Throughout his long illness his strength and determination never weakened. In the end, he died the way he lived, surrounded by his family and friends. We would like to say a very special thank you to all the staff at Select Specialty Hospital for taking such good care of our father and treating him with the utmost respect and thoughtfulness until the very end. A Celebration of Art’s life will be held at BLACKHAWK COUNTRY CLUB, 3606 Blackhawk Drive, Madison, WI 53705 on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010. Friends may gather with the family at 2 p.m. to reminisce and toast Art’s life. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to a charity or activist organization of one’s choice. “May his Memory be for a Blessing.”
Cress Funeral and Cremation Service 3610 Speedway Road (608) 238-3434

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