Oct. 23, 2003
Vol. 23 No. 3

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    Conference and memorial planned to honor Johnson

    By William Harms
    News Office

    The late D. Gale Johnson
    The contributions of esteemed economist D. Gale Johnson, one of the nation’s leading economists of agriculture, will be recognized Friday, Oct. 24 and Saturday, Oct. 25, at a memorial service and a conference.

    Johnson, the Eliakim Hastings Moore Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, died Sunday, April 13. His distinguished career of service to the University included terms as Dean of the Social Sciences Division, Provost and President of the Board of the National Opinion Research Center.

    A memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel with Derek Neal, Chairman of Economics, officiating. Speakers will be Hanna Gray, President Emerita and the Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in History; former student Justin Lin (Ph.D.,’86), founder and director of the China Center for Economic Research, Peking University; and Gary Becker, University Professor in Economics.

    “D. Gale Johnson made pioneering contributions in several areas of economics. This memorial conference will highlight current work by prominent scholars who are now working in three areas that Gale influenced,” said Neal. Neal praised Johnson’s role as a scholar and policy advisor, which, he said, “affected the pace of development and the pace of transition from central planning to market economies in both Asia and Eastern Europe, and these topics play a prominent role in the morning program.

    “Earlier in Gale’s career, he helped found an important Chicago workshop in agricultural economics and made seminal contributions to the literatures on sharecropping and commodity pricing. Thus, the afternoon session begins with papers on agricultural production,” Neal added. In Johnson’s Presidential Address to the American Economics Association, he stressed the role of improvements in agricultural productivity and other additions to human knowledge as catalysts for the remarkable worldwide improvements in health and mortality observed during the past century, and that topic also will be addressed, Neal said.

    The conference will begin at 8:30 a.m. in Kent Hall, Room 120, and will be opened by a talk, titled “D. Gale Johnson: An Appreciation,” by Arnold Harberger, the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Economics. Daniel Sumner of the University of California, Davis, will present a lecture, titled “The Contributions of D. Gale Johnson to Economic Knowledge,” following Harberger’s talk.

    The morning session, beginning at 9:15 a.m., is titled “Development Economics and Transition Economies” and will be chaired by John Strauss, editor of Economic Development and Cultural Change, Michigan State University. It will include discussions of these topics: “Agriculture Productivity Growth, Rural Economic Diversity and Economic Reforms: India, 1970-2000;” “Food and Population: D. Gale Johnson and the Green Revolution;” “The Transition Economies of the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe;” and “Reforms in Chinese Agriculture.”

    The afternoon session, beginning at 1:30 p.m., will focus on “Agricultural Economics” and will be chaired by George Tolley, Professor Emeritus in Economics. Discussions will delve into the following topics: “Optimal Commodity Storage and Price Stabilization,” “Agency Theory and Implications for Optimal Agricultural Labor and Land Tenure Contracts When Agents’ Productivity Differ” and “Health and Nutrition,” to be presented by Robert Fogel, the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of American Institutions in the Graduate School of Business.

    Further information on the memorial service and conference is available at http://economics.uchicago.edu.