Robert William Fogel  Biography - Nobel Prize Winner (1993)


Robert William Fogel (born July 1, 1926) is an American economic historian and scientist, and Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel winner in 1993 (with Douglass North).

Fogel was born in New York City where he attended the prestigious Stuyvesant High School. He went on to attend Cornell University where he majored in history with an economics minor and became president of the campus branch of American Youth for Democracy, a communist organization. After graduating with a BA in 1948, he became a professional organizer for the Communist Party. After rejecting communism, he earned an MA at Columbia University in 1960 and PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 1963. Fogel has taught at Johns Hopkins (1958-1959), the University of Rochester (1960-1965 and 1968-1975), the University of Chicago (1964-1975 and 1981-) and Harvard University (1975-1981). Fogel married Enid Cassandra Morgan in 1949 and has two children.

He is best known as the advocate of quantitative methods in history, known as cliometrics, which is applying the methods of Econometrics towards the various periods of time in the past.

Fogel's first major study involving cliometrics was his 1964 book Railroads and American Economic Growth: Essays in Econometric History, in which Fogel tried to re-create using quantitative methods what the U.S. economy might have been like in 1890 had there no railroads. Fogel's conclusion was that had there been no railroads in the 19th century, the U.S. economy in 1890 would have been only 25% smaller then it was in fact. For this reason, Fogel argued that the railroads as an engine of economic growth were overrated, and that much of U.S. economic expansion was in fact fueled by the building of canals. Fogel's conclusions created much controversy with many economists and historians questioning Fogel's research in this matter.

Fogel's most famous and controversial work is Time on the Cross a 1974 two-volume quantitative study of American slavery co-written with Stanley Engerman. In the book, Fogel and Engerman argued that slaves in the American South lived better than did many industrial workers in the North. Fogel based this analysis largely on plantation records and claimed that slaves worked less, were better fed and were whipped only occasionally. Time on the Cross created a fire-storm of controversy, and many mistakenly considered Fogel an apologist for slavery. In fact, Fogel objected to slavery on moral grounds; he thought that on purely economic grounds, slavery was not unprofitable or inefficient as previous historians had argued, such as Ulrich B. Phillips. A survey of economic historians concludes that 48 % "agreed" and another 24 % "agreed with provisos" with Fogel and Engerman's argument that "slave agriculture was efficient compared with free agriculture." In addition, 23 % "agreed" and 35 % "agreed with provisos" with their argument that "the material (rather than psychological) conditions of the lives of slaves compared favorably with those of free industrial workers in the decades before the Civil War."

Fogel's continuing work includes recent papers on health care and Asian economies.

Akerlof, George A.
Allais, Maurice

Arrow, Kenneth J.

Aumann, Robert J.

Becker, Gary S.

Buchanan, James M., Jr.

Coase, Ronald H.

Debreu, Gerard

Engle, Robert F.

Fogel, Robert W.

Friedman, Milton

Frisch, Ragnar

Granger, Clive W. J.

Haavelmo, Trygve

Harsanyi, John C.

Heckman, James J.

Hayek, Friedrich August Von

Hicks, Sir John R.

Kahneman, Daniel

Kantorovich, Leonid Vitaliyevich

Klein, Lawrence R.

Koopmans, Tjalling C.

Kuznets, Simon

Kydland, Finn E.

Leontief, Wassily

Lewis, Sir Arthur

Lucas, Robert

Markowitz, Harry M.

McFadden, Daniel L.

Meade, James E.

Merton, Robert C.

Miller, Merton M.

Mirrlees, James A.

Modigliani, Franco

Mundell, Robert A.

Myrdal, Gunnar

Nash, John F.

North, Douglass C.

Ohlin, Bertil

Prescott, Edward C.

Samuelson, Paul A.

Schelling, Thomas C.

Scholes, Myron S.

Schultz, Theodore W.

Selten, Reinhard

Sen, Amartya

Sharpe, William F.

Simon, Herbert A.

Smith, Vernon L.

Solow, Robert M.

Spence, A. Michael

Stigler, George J.

Stiglitz, Joseph E.

Stone, Sir Richard

Tinbergen, Jan

Tobin, James

Vickrey, William


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