Alan Krueger, a groundbreaking Princeton University economist who served as a top adviser in two Democratic administrations and was an authority on the labor market, has died after taking his own life, his family said.
‘It is with tremendous sadness we share that Professor Alan B. Krueger, beloved husband, father, son, brother, and Princeton professor of economics took his own life over the weekend,’ a statement from his family reads.
‘The family requests the time and space to grieve and remember him.
‘In lieu of flowers, we encourage those wishing to honor Alan to make a contribution to the charity of their choice.’
Krueger, 58, devoted much of his research to the job market and, in particular, to the impact of a minimum wage.
His work concluded that a higher minimum wage did not generally slow hiring as many conservative critics have argued.
After serving as a Labor Department economist under President Bill Clinton, Krueger worked for President Barack Obama as a top Treasury official and then as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 2011 to 2013.
In a statement, Obama credited Krueger with helping revive the U.S. economy after the devastating 2008 financial crisis.
‘He spent the first two years of my administration helping to engineer our response to the worst financial crisis in 80 years and to successfully prevent the chaos from spiraling into a second Great Depression,’ Obama said.
‘He helped us return the economy to growth and sustained job creation, to bring down the deficit in a responsible way and to set the stage for wages to rise again.’
Clinton tweeted: ‘Alan Krueger was a brilliant economist for the public interest – from his research proving that raising the minimum wage doesn’t increase unemployment, to his recent work showing that America’s opioid epidemic has increased it.
‘My thoughts are with his family. We lost him too soon.’
David Axelrod, a senior adviser in the Obama administration, tweeted: ‘Stunned and saddened to read of Alan Krueger’s passing. He was a brilliant and warm WH colleague. A wonderful combination. RIP.’
Jordan Weissmann tweeted: ‘Alan Krueger helped pioneer the early research showing that minimum wage increases don’t necessarily kill jobs. A giant in labor economics. Will be missed.’
Paul Krugman, columnist for The New York Times, tweeted: ‘The tragedy of Alan Krueger, even worse than we realized.
‘What a terrible thing to happen to an intellectual giant who made America a better place for millions of people.’
Jacob Bernstein, an economic adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, tweeted: ‘Like anyone who knew him, I’m in shock and despair over the death of Alan Krueger.
‘All we can take solace in is how lucky we are to have known him.’
Stephanie Ruhle, a host on cable news channel MSNBC, tweeted: ‘Truly sad to hear about Alan Krueger passing – a brilliant mind & a lovely man.’
Robert Reich, who was labor secretary in the Clinton administration, tweeted: ‘Our hearts go out to the family of Alan Krueger, friend and colleague, who served this country nobly as economic adviser to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and who saw economics as inextricably related to ethics.
‘He passed far too early. We grieve the tragic loss.’
Cecilia Rouse, dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School for Public Policy and International Affairs, said she first met Krueger during the 1980s when she was a student at Harvard University and he was a graduate student there.
‘He was incredibly creative, dedicated and prolific,’ Rouse said.
‘He couldn’t have been a better friend or mentor. It’s a loss for economics and public policy.’
Krueger had been teaching at Princeton since 1987.
His research extended to such issues as economic inequality and the consequences of opioid addiction for the job market.
He also applied his economic work to some unconventional areas, from terrorism to the music industry.
Krueger found, for example, a surging wealth gap within pop music.
In a 2005 paper, he illustrated how a rising share of concert revenue was flowing to a narrow top sliver of recording artists.
Krueger went on to write a book about economics and the music industry, Rockonomics, that is set to be published in June.
While serving under Obama, Krueger developed and popularized the concept of the ‘Great Gatsby Curve.’
It showed that high economic inequality corresponds with low economic mobility on a generation-to-generation basis.
In short, it meant that when economic disparities between the rich and everyone else are wide, people’s ability to improve their financial health depends even more heavily on their parents’ economic status.
The curve was named after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic literary character Jay Gatsby, who rose from being a poor Midwestern boy to a wealthy bootlegger.
But Krueger was perhaps best-known for his research on the minimum wage with David Card.
Their 1993 paper found that a rise in New Jersey’s minimum wage had had no effect on employment in the state’s fast food sector compared with the same sector just across the state line in Pennsylvania.
Widely admired in both economic and political circles, Krueger was known as an avid tennis player and for frequently taking time to discuss the nuances of public policy with reporters.
Gene Sperling, who worked with Krueger in the Obama administration as the director of the National Economic Council, tweeted Monday that he was, ‘Just shocked, just stunned, so, so saddened.’
‘Alan has been my friend and colleague for over 20 years – and one of the very most consequential economists of our generation,’ Sperling said.
‘His path-breaking work on minimum wage was only one of many ways he used his genius for the good of all.’
In his statement, Obama said of Krueger: ‘He had a perpetual smile and a gentle spirit – even when he was correcting you. That’s what made him Alan a fundamentally good and decent man.’