Saturday, August 26, 2006

Berry, Berry Good For Him

Thanks to Katie Newmark, we congratulate Chicago's newest economist:

After a long and fruitful career, 79-year-old master’s degree graduate Herbert Baum has returned to the University of Chicago to earn his Ph.D. The oldest person ever to be awarded a doctorate by the University, Baum will receive the degree in economics Friday, Aug. 25.

When he left the University in 1951 to become a government agricultural economist in Washington, D.C., Baum had a master’s degree and was just short of writing his dissertation to earn a doctorate.

His dissertation contributes to agricultural economics by examining how to measure the impact of fees charged producers for commodity promotion and research. The thesis, based on a case study of the strawberry industry in California in which he was a leader, developed a model for researchers to understand the long-term value of the fees assessed growers. The model shows how the policies of the state strawberry commission, which supported research into improved varieties, improved production per acre and grower profitability.

.... Baum’s work with strawberries began shortly after he went to work in California in 1953 after working for the federal government upon completing is master’s degree. Inspired by former professor and free-market economist Milton Friedman who went on to receive a Nobel Prize, Baum decided to find work in private industry. He went on to became a leading figure in the development of the state’s strawberry industry.

....Friedman, the Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Economics, was one of the faculty members who approved granting Baum a Ph.D. Joining Friedman on the committee were Nobel Prize-winning economists Gary Becker, University Professor in Economics, and committee chair [and also a Nobelist] James Heckman. Roger Myerson, the William C. Norby Professor in Economics, also served on the committee.

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