Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 124: Joseph Eugene Stiglitz (b. 1943)
Joseph Eugene Stiglitz was born in 1943 to Charlotte and Nathaniel Stiglitz and grew up in the small Manufacturing Belt town of Gary, Indiana. Legend has it that Paul Samuelson, who was also born there, once recommended Stiglitz in a letter as “the best economist from Gary”. According to his own account, the problems of unemployment, poverty and racial discrimination that plagued his hometown provoked an interest for Joseph Stiglitz in social sciences. Born into a politically active family he also developed a liking for political debates at an early age. After finishing a public school in Gary, where he trained as a printer and an electrician, he decided in 1960 to join his older brother at Amherst College. At Amherst, Stiglitz took courses in physics, mathematics, history, and philosophy, served as the president of the Student Council, and was an enthusiastic participant in college debates. His attraction to economics arose primarily from the fact that it allowed him to apply his outstanding skills in mathematics to important questions of economic and social policy. When he informed his teachers about his decision to major in economics, they arranged for him to skip the senior year so he could go on to graduate school immediately. Without a degree, he left Amherst for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1963. At that time, MIT was at the pinnacle of prominence with its staff including Paul Samuelson, Robert Solow, Franco Modigliani and Kenneth Arrow. Among his fellow students were George Akerlof, and...
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