November 15, 2019

o: Alan B. Krueger, Economic Aide to Clinton and Obama, Is Dead at 58

“That was his line,” Mr. Krueger said. “And I couldn’t say no.”

Mr. Krueger spent two years at Treasury as chief economist and assistant secretary for economic policy. Then, after a brief return to Princeton, he went back to Washington as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, where he pushed the administration to focus on issues of inequality and economic opportunity.

While at the White House, he developed and popularized the “Great Gatsby curve,” the notion that countries with greater inequality had lower economic mobility from generation to generation.

In a statement on Monday, Mr. Obama praised Mr. Krueger as “someone who was deeper than numbers on a screen or charts on a page.”

“He had a perpetual smile and a gentle spirit — even when he was correcting you,” Mr. Obama said.

Alan Bennett Krueger was born on Sept. 17, 1960, in Livingston, N.J., less than 50 miles from the university where he would make his professional home. His father, Norman, was an accountant; his mother, Rhoda, taught first grade.

Mr. Krueger attended Cornell University intending to become a lawyer. But while analyzing data for an undergraduate research paper, he found that he enjoyed empirical work. After graduating from Cornell in 1985, he pursued a degree in economics at Harvard University, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1987.

Mr. Krueger arrived at Princeton in 1987 as an empirical revolution was dawning in the economics profession. He quickly made his own contribution, helping to found a survey research center there at a time when relatively few economists were conducting their own surveys. He pioneered the use of so-called natural experiments to study the effects of government policies.

“It was the ability to be both interesting and credible — that was his great gift,” said Lawrence H. Summers, who taught Mr. Krueger at Harvard and later worked with him in the Obama administration. “That’s part of why there’ve been generations of people doing natural experiments.”

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