Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 125: Paul Robin Krugman (b. 1953)
Paul Robin Krugman was born in 1953 in Albany, New York, the only child of Anita and David Krugman, an insurance industry manager, and grew up in a middle-class neighbourhood in Long Island. Krugman began studying economics at Yale where he soon attracted the attention of his professors. In 1973, he became a research assistant to William Nordhaus. After graduating from Yale in 1974, Krugman went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to study under Paul Samuelson, Robert Solow, and Rüdiger Dornbusch, the latter of whom became his PhD adviser. During this time Krugman was introduced to the distinctive MIT variant of neoclassical economics with its emphasis on small-scale theoretical models tailored around a set of stylized empirical observations. The MIT economics department was rather sceptical toward the rational expectations revolution that was sweeping through macroeconomics at that time and continued to teach “old” Keynesian theory. In particular, Dornbusch’s brand of international macroeconomics, which had a strong influence on Krugman, was largely Keynesian in character. The years at MIT were formative not only for Krugman’s understanding of economic theory but also for his intellectual style. From Samuelson and Solow he learnt to combine a mathematically rigorous way of thinking with a light and playful style of exposition. From Dornbusch he inherited a strong affinity for policy-oriented issues. In 1977, Krugman finished his doctoral thesis on flexible exchange rates and took a position as assistant professor at Yale where he began to work on what would become the...
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