Reflections of Eminent Economists
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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.
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Chapter 9: My Life and Economics

Ronald G. Ehrenberg


* Ronald G. Ehrenberg I. INTRODUCTION Age 51 is a bit early to be writing a retrospective about one’s career as an economist and one’s life. This is especially true for me since I am not on track to win a Nobel Prize, to be admitted to the National Academy of Science, or even to be elected a Fellow of the Econometric Society. Nonetheless, as I write this essay during the fall of 1997, I look back on the 28 years I have spent as a PhD economist and see a record of accomplishment of which I am proud and a number of messages worth conveying to budding economists. Moreover, because I became the Vice-President for Academic Programs, Planning and Budgeting at Cornell in the spring of 1995 and am unsure when, or if, I will return to the faculty, taking the time to sum up my career to date may well help me to decide the directions in which I want it to go in the future. I hope that a number of messages come through to you in this essay. They are that we all are products of our environment and experiences, that family, friends and students mean much more in the long run than all of the publications on one’s vita, that committing oneself to a single institution can be overwhelmingly satisfying, and that famous economists are not spared from adversity and must learn to cope with life’s problems just as everyone else does. However, I am getting...

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