Professor Klein was awarded the 1980 Nobel in economic science
for developing statistical models used to predict global economic
Lawrence R. Klein, who predicted the United States' economic boom
after World War II and who was awarded the 1980 Nobel in economic
science for developing statistical models that are used to analyze
and predict global economic trends, died on Sunday at his home in
Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. He was 93.
His daughter Hannah Klein confirmed the death.
As World War II was ending, Professor Klein disputed the
conventional wisdom that the postwar period would drive the American
economy back into a depression. Using his econometric models based
on mathematical equations, he predicted correctly that the pent-up
demand for consumer goods after the war, coupled with the purchasing
power of the returning soldiers, would result not in economic crisis
but in a surge in spending and a flourishing economy.
Though he was an economic adviser to Jimmy Carter during his 1976
presidential campaign, Professor Klein chose to remain in academia -
- he taught economics at the University of Pennsylvania for 33 years
-- and rejected an offer to join the Carter administration.
"I am just an academic giving advice," he told People magazine in
1976. "If you are a technician and are asked for help, it is a
social obligation of citizenship to give it."
Professor Klein's use of vast survey data to build statistical
economic models has been adopted by economists around the world, the
Nobel committee said in awarding him the Nobel Memorial Prize in
Jere R. Behrman, a professor of economics and sociology at Penn,
said Professor Klein's work was built on the idea that an economy is
a set of complex organisms -- millions of people, households,
corporations, government and other entities -- and that through
simple models one can understand its essence.
The models, he said, allow economists "to make predictions about
what is likely to happen in the economy if there is a significant
change in international markets, such as an increase in the price of
petroleum." An oil price rise might affect productivity and export
prices in Germany, for example, and that in turn could affect
unemployment in the Netherlands or Dutch exports to Britain.
"Before Klein," Professor Behrman added, "there had been very
little work on these aggregate models."
Lawrence Robert Klein was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on Sept. 14,
1920. He attended public schools there and became fascinated with
economics while growing up in the Depression. He also developed an
obsession for baseball and became a batboy for a minor league team. …