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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: June 2014

5 - Biochemist to Economist

Summary

My career as “professional economist” spans more than five decades. Entrance into the economics profession, however, began rather later than usual. I graduated from Brooklyn College in 1950 with majors in chemistry and biology. I never took a course in economics during my undergraduate years.

From 1950 to 1952, I went on to graduate training in biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, where I easily completed my courses while working as an instructor in biochemistry at the Medical and Dental Schools of the University of Pennsylvania. I decided to do a PhD thesis on DNA (this was before the discovery of the “double helix”). Although I had enjoyed my teaching duties, I quickly lost interest in biochemical research and withdrew from the program.

Not knowing what I would do for a living, I returned to New York and enrolled at City University of New York in an MBA program to prepare myself for the world of commerce. While there I was required to take a course in the principles of economics. As a biochemist trained in the questions of experimental design and statistical inference, I was appalled by the misuse of empirical data by the leading econometricians of that time.

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