I was deeply saddened to learn about the untimely passing of Professor Alan Krueger, via an announcement from Princeton. If you are unfamiliar with his work, then go read the lovely tribute that Noah Smith wrote. “Krueger helped turn the economics profession into a more empirical, more scientific enterprise. His research shed light on many of the most important policy issues facing the U.S., and he put that knowledge to good use working for two presidential administrations.”
I was privileged to interview him in 2015, and Professor Krueger could not have been more charming. I also was fortunate to spend some time with him, in the real world (TV and Radio don’t count). He always delighted via his intelligence, charm and generosity. He was a tennis buff, and the day before my Serena MIB Live at the Inside ETF conference in 2018, he gave me some suggested question over lunch. I have been swinging a racquet for about 4 years, but he is a serious tennis player for a long time. He told hilarious stories about Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who was Krueger’s academic adviser and occasional tennis partner.
He was at the event there to discuss music and economics, and interviewed Quincy Jones on stage.
When we recorded our interview, it was during Spring Break. My mother was visiting from Florida during vacation week, and Professor Krueger was in the Bloomberg Studios for the 8:30 Non Farm Payroll Reports. When I told Mom I had an interview that day despite being off for the week, she asked to come see what the Bloomberg HQ was like. On the ride in, I explained to her who Alan Krueger was — Labor Department Chief Economist under Clinton, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors under Obama, etc.
Imagine a Jewish mother’s pride — the chair of the CEA was chatting her up, talking about her son, and explaining why he was there. He told mom “I was going to just do the NFP report than head home, but I was thrilled to sit and chat with Barry.” She kvelled. He could not have been more lovely and kind. Every person I know who knew Alan has similar stories about his kindness and generosity.
I had no idea he was wrestling with Depression; this event makes me wonder how many other lovely people we are all taking for granted who may be in pain, or fighting something we cannot see. This, and other surprising suicides are a reminder not to take anyone for granted, and to cherish every day.
Alan Krueger affected everyone he met with his intelligence, kindness, charm and generosity. He will be greatly missed . . .
Rockonomics: The Economics of Popular Music (white paper)
“Great Gatsby Curve,” – High levels of economic inequality also lead to low social mobility
Alan Krueger’s minimum wage research was remarkable, Catherine Rampell, now of WaPo, Alan’s former research assistant
Mourning the Loss of Alan Krueger Paul Krugman
Alan Krueger Was the Rare Economist Whose Work Improved the Lives of Millions (Slate)
Testimony by Arindrajit Dube, who has continued the Card-Krueger program, on what we know about the effects of minimum wage hikes. “Keeping up with a Changing Economy: Indexing the Minimum Wage.”