ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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William Baumol (1922–2017)

William Baumol (1922–2017)

William Baumol made seminal contributions in many areas of economics, in understanding externalities, the economics of performing arts, entrepreneurship, and the notion of fairness, to name a few. He identified the “cost disease” of rising relative costs of services such as education, healthcare, and opera singing, where the human component is the key to the delivery of the service. Baumol had a profound understanding of the history of economic thought that sought to explain the real world.

William Jack Baumol, who was one of the greatest living economists, passed away on 4 May 2017 at the age of 95 in New York. He was born on 26 February 1922 in South Bronx in New York City. Baumol’s parents, Solomon and Lillian Baumol, were immigrants from Eastern Europe. His father was a bookbinder who later ran a laundromat in New York. Baumol has described his household as one with a strong social conscience, and has said that he became interested in economics during high school by reading the works of Karl Marx.

He graduated from City College, New York in 1942, where he met his future wife, Hilda Missel. In an interview he gave to Alan Krueger (2001), Baumol said that both his wife and he “grew up in very left wing households.” Even though they were both suspicious of what Stalin was doing, they “still believed in things like non-discrimination, elimination of poverty, etc.” After graduation, he served in the army during World War II and then got a job at the agriculture department, where he worked on allocating grain supplies to countries in need.

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Updated On : 21st Jul, 2017

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