Alan B. Krueger, who advised two presidents and helped lead economics toward a more scientific approach to research and policymaking, died over the weekend. He was 58.
Princeton University, where Mr. Krueger taught for more than three decades, announced his death on Monday, without specifying a cause.
Mr. Krueger was an assistant secretary of the Treasury from 2009 to 2010, as President Barack Obama’s administration tried to lead the United States out of its worst recession since the Great Depression. Later, he was the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, from 2011 to 2013.
From 1994 to 1995, he was the Labor Department’s chief economist under President Bill Clinton.
A labor economist by training, Mr. Krueger was part of a new wave of economists who pushed the field toward a more empirical mind-set, with an emphasis on data rather than theory. He applied that approach broadly: to education, health care, labor markets and even more lighthearted subjects like the rising price of concert tickets. His latest book, due out in June, is on the economics of the music industry.
“He is certainly among the most — if not the most — significant labor economists and all-around empirical economists of the last three decades,” said Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist and frequent collaborator. Mr. Katz said Mr. Krueger was one of a handful of researchers who “really changed the shape of economics and turned it into a more serious science.”
Mr. Krueger was perhaps best known for his work with Mr. Katz and another economist, David Card, in the early 1990s on the effects of the minimum wage. Standard economic thinking at the time held that raising the minimum wage would reduce employment for low-wage workers, and Mr. Katz said he and Mr. Krueger had expected to find the same. Instead, they found no impact on employment — a finding that remains controversial, but that has proved highly influential.
“Even when people were saying you’re crazy as an economist, he was really willing to let the data lead where it went,” Mr. Katz said.
Mr. Krueger was also a contributor to the Economic Scene column and the Economix blog in The New York Times.
A full obituary will appear soon.
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