Reflections of Eminent Economists

Reflections of Eminent Economists

Edited by Michael Szenberg and Lall Ramrattan

In this collection of autobiographical essays, 26 prominent scholars detail their professional development, while offering insight into their lives and philosophies. With candor and humor they relate how they came to the field of economics, as well as how their views have evolved over the years.

Chapter 4: Pushing for a More Humane Society

Barbara R. Bergmann

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, history of economic thought


Barbara R. Bergmann Like most economists, I came to the profession not through any great interest in the actual economy itself. Rather, I enjoyed studying and creating models of simple processes that might or might not resemble what goes on in the actual economy – a form, really, of recreational mathematics. However, as time went on, I became interested as well in working on issues of race, gender and poverty in the economy, and the social policy questions these issues raised. I have been able to use my standing as an economist, and even a bit here and there of my economics training, to write on these matters, and, I hope, to make a contribution to the eventual achievement of a more humane world. I was born in 1927 in the Bronx. I became an atheist at age four, when I failed to receive a minor favor I had prayed for and believed I deserved. It then occurred to me that nobody was up there listening. I became a feminist (a person who believes in working toward the equality of women and men) at age five, when it became obvious to me that you needed your own money to be an independent person, which was what I wanted to be when I grew up. My grandparents had come to the United States from Eastern Europe in the huge wave of immigration prior to 1914, fleeing anti-Semitism. Neither of my parents stayed in school through high school, because their families needed the...

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