Alan Krueger

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Alan Krueger
20170817 AlanKrueger FacultyPortrait CF 0011 (cropped).jpg
27th Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
In office
November 7, 2011 – August 2, 2013
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byAustan Goolsbee
Succeeded byJason Furman
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy
In office
May 7, 2009 – October 16, 2010
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byPhillip Swagel
Succeeded byJanice Eberly
Personal details
Alan Bennett Krueger

(1960-09-17)September 17, 1960
Livingston, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedMarch 16, 2019(2019-03-16) (aged 58)
Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Lisa Simon
EducationCornell University (BS)
Harvard University (MA, PhD)
Academic career
FieldLabor economics
Public finance
Lawrence Summers[1]
Richard B. Freeman[1]
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Alan Bennett Krueger (September 17, 1960 – March 16, 2019) was an American economist who was the James Madison Professor of Political Economy at Princeton University and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, nominated by President Barack Obama, from May 2009 to October 2010, when he returned to Princeton. He was nominated in 2011 by Obama as chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and served in that office from November 2011 to August 2013.[2] He was among the 50 highest ranked economists in the world according to Research Papers in Economics.

Early life and education[edit]

Krueger grew up in a Jewish family[3] in Livingston, New Jersey, and graduated from Livingston High School in 1979.[4]

Krueger received his B.S. from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations (with honors), and he received his A.M. and Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 1985 and 1987, respectively.[5]


Krueger developed and applied the method of natural experiments[6] to study the effect of education on earnings, the minimum wage on employment, and other issues.[7]

Krueger compared restaurant jobs in New Jersey, which raised its minimum wage, to restaurant jobs in Pennsylvania, which did not, and found that restaurant employment in New Jersey increased, while it decreased in Pennsylvania.[8] The results reinvigorated the academic debate on the employment effects of minimum wages and spawned a large literature.[9]

His books, Education Matters: Selected Essays by Alan B. Krueger and (with James Heckman) Inequality in America: What Role for Human Capital Policies? reviewed the available research relating to positive externalities accruing to society from increased government investment in educating the children of the poor. In Inequality in America, he writes:[10]

I would emphasize that I do not envision investment in human capital development as the sole component of a program to address the adverse consequences of income inequality. It is part of the solution, but not the whole solution. In principle, the optimal governmental policy regarding income inequality would employ multiple instruments, up to the point at which the social benefit per additional dollar of cost of each instrument is equal across all instruments.

In his book, What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism (2007), he wrote that in contrast to the assumption that terrorists come from impoverished, uneducated environments, terrorists often come from middle-class, college-educated backgrounds.[11][12]

In 1994–95, he served as Chief Economist at the United States Department of Labor. He received the Kershaw Prize, Mahalanobis Prize, and IZA Prize (with David Card), and was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Society of Labor Economists, Econometric Society and American Academy of Political and Social Science.[5] He was a member of the Executive and Supervisory Committee (ESC) of CERGE-EI, an academic institution located in Prague, Czech Republic.[13]

On March 7, 2009, he was nominated by President Barack Obama to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy.[14] In October 2010, he announced his resignation from the Treasury Department, to return to Princeton University.[15]

On August 29, 2011, he was nominated by Obama to be chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers,[16][17] and on November 3, 2011, the Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination.[18]

He also published several books on issues related to education, labor markets and income distribution.[6] He was also known for his work on the Environmental Kuznets Curve.[19] Between 2000 and 2006 he wrote for The New York Times Economic Scene column.[20][7]

Krueger signed a 2018 amici curiae brief that expressed support for Harvard University in the Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College lawsuit.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Krueger was married to Lisa Simon and had two children.[22] His interests included rock music and tennis.[23]

Death and legacy[edit]

Krueger was found dead at his home in Princeton on March 16, 2019.[7] His family stated the cause of death was suicide.[7][24] In a statement, former President Obama declared: "Alan was someone who was deeper than numbers on a screen and charts on a page," adding, "He saw economic policy not as a matter of abstract theories, but as a way to make people’s lives better."[25] His death was commemorated by The Economist with a full-page obituary running in their Free Exchange column.[26] Daniel Kahneman said of Krueger's death that in his view “I don’t think being intellectually interested in wellbeing[27] has much impact on personal wellbeing one way or another.”[28]


  • Card, David; Krueger, Alan B. (1995). Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-04823-1.
  • Krueger, Alan B. (2001). Education Matters: Selected Essays by Alan B. Krueger. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. ISBN 1-84064-106-1.
  • Heckman, James J.; Krueger, Alan B. (2003). Inequality in America: What Role for Human Capital Policies?. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-08328-0.
  • Krueger, Alan B. (2007). What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-13438-3.
  • Krueger, Alan B. (2019). Rockonomics: A Backstage Tour of What the Music Industry Can Teach Us About Economics and Life. Currency. ISBN 978-1-5247-6371-8.


  1. ^ a b "Alan Krueger". The Mathematics Genealogy Project. Retrieved March 19, 2019.
  2. ^ "Alan Krueger". The White House President Barack Obama. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  3. ^ The Jewish Daily Forward: "Meet the Four Jews Shaping the U.S. Economy" By Nathan Guttman Archived March 22, 2015, at the Wayback Machine February 28, 2013
  4. ^ Kwoh, Leslie. "Obama to tap Princeton's Alan Krueger to fill key economic post", The Star-Ledger, August 29, 2011. Accessed August 29, 2011. "Krueger, 50, a Livingston native, returned to academia a year ago after serving for two years as assistant treasury secretary for economic policy to the Obama administration."
  5. ^ a b "Alan B. Krueger". Princeton University. Archived from the original on March 18, 2019. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Smith, Noah (March 18, 2019). "Alan Krueger Led a Quiet Economics Revolution". Bloomberg. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Casselman, Ben (March 18, 2019). "Alan B. Krueger, Economic Aide to Clinton and Obama, Dies at 58". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  8. ^ Nasar, Sylvia (August 22, 1993). "Conversations/David Card and Alan Krueger; Two Economists Catch Clinton's Eye By Bucking the Common Wisdom". The New York Times. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  9. ^ Schmitt, John. "Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment?" (PDF). Centre for Economic and Policy Research. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  10. ^ Heckman & Krueger 2003, p. 62
  11. ^ Krueger 2007, p. 77
  12. ^ Freedman, Lawrence D. (November–December 2007). "Review: What Makes a Terrorist". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  13. ^ "Executive and Supervisory Committee". Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  14. ^ "Obama nominates 3 to key Treasury posts". AP. March 8, 2009.
  15. ^ Schelling, Ameena (October 16, 2010). "Krueger will depart Treasury to retain tenure". The Daily Princetonian. Archived from the original on October 18, 2011. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  16. ^ "Obama nominates Alan Krueger as his new chief economist". BBC News. August 29, 2011.
  17. ^ Kwoh, Leslie (August 29, 2011). "Obama to tap Princeton's Alan Krueger to fill key economic post".
  18. ^ 157 Congressional Record S7141 (November 3, 2011).
  19. ^ Hayward, Steven F. (December 21, 2005). "The China Syndrome and the Environmental Kuznets Curve". American Enterprise Institute. Retrieved March 19, 2019.
  20. ^ "Alan B. Krueger". New York Times.
  22. ^ "Alan Krueger". Star Tribune. August 29, 2011. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Alan Krueger, prominent Princeton economist, passes away". Princeton University. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  25. ^ Family says Obama's top economic adviser killed himself Joseph Lawler, Washington Examiner, March 18, 2019
  26. ^ The Economist (March 21, 2019). "Alan Krueger, natural talent". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  27. ^ e.g."Understanding subjective well-being", Chapter 7,by Kreuger and Allan Stone, in "For Good Measure Advancing Research on Well-being Metrics Beyond GDP: Advancing Research on Well-being Metrics Beyond GDP", OECD Publishing, 27 Nov 2018
  28. ^

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
Succeeded by