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Edited by Ross B. Emmett
Chapter 16: Theodore William Schultz
Pedro Nuno Teixeira T.W. Schultz’s life (1902–98) spanned the twentieth century, and his career as economist not only reflected many of the changes that economics underwent during the period, but also contributed in no small amount to those transformations (Bowman 1980, Nerlove 1999, Gardner 2006).1 Schultz used to blame several events that occurred during his youth for driving him towards economics, not least the difficulties faced by farmers during the first decades of the twentieth century, which instilled in him an enduring concern with the improvement of the productive and welfare conditions of agriculture. Those hard times made him interrupt his secondary education to start working fulltime. He returned to formal education late in his teens (1921), entering a short course in agriculture at the South Dakota State College. Three years later he decided to continue his studies on agricultural economics at that institution and obtained a BA in 1927 and an MS in 1928. In 1928 he was accepted to undertake graduate studies in agricultural economics at the University of Wisconsin, where he was taught by some of the leading figures of institutionalism at the time, notably John R. Commons. Although this period nurtured in Schultz a deep respect for Commons and his work, as time went by he became increasingly critical of institutionalism as a general economic approach and aligned himself with neoclassical economics. After finishing his PhD at Wisconsin in 1930, he was hired at Iowa State College (now University), where he was asked five...
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