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

15 - How I Ended Up Being a Multifaceted Economist and the Mentors I Have Had

Summary

As is clear from my title, professor of economics, political science, and public policy at UCLA, I ended up being a multifaceted economist, working not only in economics per se but also in international relations as part of my involvement in political science and public policy issues. Even within economics itself, while most economists work in one or two fields, I work in many, including:

Economic theory and mathematical economics

Econometrics

Health economics

Reform of the Russian economy

Strategy and arms control

In this essay I would like to explain how this happened, starting from the beginning when I was an undergraduate student at MIT, majoring in mathematics. As I started the junior- and senior-level courses in mathematics, I felt that the material was too abstract, and I was looking for something that was tangible and more connected to the real world. I took a course on twentieth-century economists taught by Elspeth Huxley Rostow, and it was this course that convinced me to become an economist. The course included a few lectures by Elspeth’s husband, Walt W. Rostow, at that time professor of economics at MIT and later to become national security adviser to President Lyndon B. Johnson during the Vietnam War. (They both ended up at the LBJ School of the University of Texas, Austin, and I saw them there many years later when visiting James Galbraith while Elspeth was the dean of the school.)