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Tibor Scitovsky, 91; Stanford Economist Had Global Impact

June 07, 2002|From Associated Press

Tibor Scitovsky, an economist who influenced global trade and economic development policies and helped build Stanford University's economics department, has died. He was 91.

Scitovsky died Saturday at Stanford Hospital from complications after surgery.

Born in Budapest, he was from a prominent Hungarian family. His father was the president of one of Hungary's largest banks and later served as foreign minister.

Scitovsky earned degrees at the University of Budapest, Cambridge University's Trinity College in England and the London School of Economics before arriving in the United States in 1939.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946, first driving a truck in England, then working for the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, which studied the effects of bombing on Germany.

Early in his academic career, Scitovsky focused on the theory of international trade and welfare economics. He gained a reputation as an unorthodox social critic in the 1970s, when he published "The Joyless Economy: An Inquiry Into Human Satisfaction and Consumer Dissatisfaction."

He argued that the American economy overemphasized comfort and safety and deprived consumers of the joys of challenging, unexpected and even risky activities--a concept initially received with skepticism by his colleagues. By 1995, however, the Times Literary Supplement of London had rated the work among the 100 most influential books of the post-World War II era.

Scitovsky was recruited by Stanford after the war and remained there until 1958, becoming one of the key figures in the university's budding economics department, said professor emeritus Mel Reder, a longtime colleague and friend.

Scitovsky went on to teach at UC Berkeley, Harvard and Yale, then returned to Stanford in 1970 and stayed there until his retirement in 1976. He later taught at UC Santa Cruz. Through the 1990s, he continued to publish articles on economics.

He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Elisabeth, and a daughter, Catherine Eliaser, from his first marriage.

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