In Memoriam: Professor Kenneth J. Arrow (1921 – 2017)

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Professor Kenneth J. Arrow on Tuesday, February 21. He was 95. Kenneth Arrow, the Joan Kenney Professor of Economics and Professor of Operations Research at Stanford University, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Science in 1972. He received an honorary doctorate from Columbia University in 1973. Professor Arrow’s work was formative in shaping the field of economics over the past sixty years and his ideas, style of research, and breadth of vision were a model for generations of the boldest and most creative economists. The Center on Global Economic Governance has been honored to be one of the organizers of the Kenneth J. Arrow Lecture Series at Columbia University, now in its ninth year, which highlights economists whose work builds on Professor Arrow’s pioneering scholarship and innovative spirit. He will be deeply missed.

Below, we share some comments from Professor Arrow’s colleagues.

Joseph Stiglitz, University Professor at Columbia University:
"Ken Arrow was one of the greatest intellects of the past century and among the kindest I have ever known. His originality and depth of insight were unsurpassed, as was his commitment to creating a better world. I was privileged to have him as a professor at MIT, then as a colleague at Stanford, and finally as a co-author and friend. We worked on a large number of causes together including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Economists for Peace and Security. He will be terribly missed."

Mike Woodford, John Bates Clark Professor of Political Economy at Columbia University:
"Kenneth Arrow, still the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, was widely recognized as one of the most important contributors to economics in the second half of the twentieth century. While particularly renowned for his foundational contributions to the theory of social choice, the theory of general competitive equilibrium, asset pricing theory, and the theory of choice under uncertainty, he also had a considerable impact on economic understanding of problems as diverse as economic growth, health economics, inventory management, and statistical issues arising in quality control studies.

Kenneth Arrow was a giant of economics, and an inspiration to those of us in the generations that followed him. The acuteness of his mind and his commitment to rigorous analysis, even well into his nineties, were impressive, and have set an example that the rest of us will struggle to live up to. We shall not soon see someone like him."

José Scheinkman, Edwin W. Rickert Professor of Economics:
"Ken Arrow was one of the greatest economists that ever lived. He was also immensely read and an insightful and generous critic. Giving a lecture with Ken in the audience was an amazing experience because you often came out with a fresh perspective on a problem in which you thought you were an expert."