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Richard Musgrave

Richard MusgraveProfessor Emeritus Richard A. Musgrave, a leading 20th century political economist who taught at Harvard University and at Harvard Law School died at the age of 96. Dean Elena Kagan said, “His contributions to the field of public finance are immense, and he will forever be recognized as one of the true pioneers and scholars in that area.”

Musgrave was born in Koenigstein, Germany, in 1910 and received his early education in Munich and Heidelberg. He came to the United States in 1933 as an exchange student and decided not to return to Nazi Germany. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard in 1937.

Musgrave is widely viewed as one of the most influential economists of the last century and a pioneer in the field of public finance. His 1959 book, The Theory of Public Finance, is considered by experts to be a springboard for important work that came later from economists such as Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson, who credited Musgrave as a key influence.

Harvard Law School News

Richard A. Musgrave was widely regarded as the founder of modern public finance and an adviser on fiscal policy and taxation to governments from Washington to Bogotá to Tokyo. A staunch believer that government can play a positive and constructive role in society, Musgrave also believed deeply that economists can contribute to making government work well, thereby contributing to a better society. His work on public finance has been described as his “attempt to marry the theory and practice of good government.”

—By Steve Bradt, Harvard University Gazette

Recommended Reading

Public Finance in Theory and Practiceby Richard A. Musgrave.
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