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PASSINGS / Stanley Lebergott

Economist liked consumerism

August 03, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Stanley Lebergott, 91, a retired economist and professor who maintained that consumerism had brought positive changes to the American standard of living, died July 24 of cardiac arrest at his home in Middletown, Conn.

Lebergott, a former government economist and Wesleyan University professor, took issue with those who disdained "consumerism" as wasteful, pointless, even immoral.

Consumption, he maintained, has always been an expression of human longing rather than mere acquisitiveness.

Lebergott was born in Detroit on July 22, 1918. He received a bachelor's in 1938 and a master's in 1939, both in economics, from the University of Michigan. He joined the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1940.

His books included "Manpower in Economic Growth" (1964), which he updated 12 years later.

Writing about that book in a 2006 issue of Economic History, Boston University economics professor Robert Margo concluded: "Lebergott's influence on economic history has been profound."

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