Edited by Ross B. Emmett
Chapter 4: Paul H. Douglas
Glen G. Cain Paul H. Douglas (1892–1976) was a member of the Economics Department at the University of Chicago from 1920 to 1948. He achieved fame in his profession for his enormous body of research in the field of labor economics. He pioneered in the application of statistical analysis to empirical research – an indispensable research method in modern economics and an area of strength in the university’s Department of Economics that continues today. He will, however, be remembered mainly in the social and political history of the United States for his accomplishments in his 18 years from 1948 to1966 as the US Senator from Illinois. The legislative record of Douglas in the Senate had for him more disappointments than successes, but, with the wisdom of hindsight, we can say that both his failed causes early in his Senate career and his later successes did him honor. He drew upon his scholarly background, his intellectual abilities and his basic humanitarianism to lead in passing laws that achieved civil rights for ethnic minorities, greater efficiency and equity in tax laws, environmental protection and safeguards for consumers by promoting price competition in markets and truth-in-lending laws in consumer finance. He personified and promoted political integrity, and he instructed the public at large about this aspect of governance with his book Ethics in Government (Douglas 1952).1 The economic research of Douglas, like that of virtually all applied economists of his generation, is no longer cited for its economic content. His name in...
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