Robert E. Lucas Jr., Nobel-Winning Conservative Economist, Dies at 85

Robert Emerson Lucas Jr. was born in Yakima, Wash., on Sept. 15, 1937. His mother, Jane (Templeton) Lucas, was a fashion artist. His father ran an ice-cream parlor that went broke during the Depression, after which the family moved to Seattle, where Robert Sr. became a steamfitter in the shipyards and then, after World War II, a welder in a commercial refrigerator company. Years later, though lacking a college degree or any training in engineering, he rose to become the company’s president.

Before his father’s fortunes changed, however, Robert Jr., hoping to become an engineer, needed a scholarship to attend college and was offered one by the University of Chicago, though it didn’t have an engineering school. Lacking the nerve to study physics, he said, he became a history major. He graduated in 1959.

He then enrolled in a graduate program in economics at the University of California, Berkeley. But, again needing financial support, he returned to the University of Chicago, where he studied under the conservative economist Milton Friedman, who would receive the Nobel in economics in 1976. Professor Lucas earned his doctorate in economics in 1964.

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