Nobel laureate Robert E. Lucas Jr. passed away at the age of 85 in Chicago on Monday. The University of Chicago announced his death but did not provide any details on the cause. Lucas began his career as a professor in 1975 and remained a Professor Emeritus until his passing.
Lucas was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1995 for his groundbreaking theories, including the rational expectations hypothesis, which challenged long-established theories of macroeconomics. He argued that government intervention in fiscal policy is often self-defeating and that consumers and businesses make decisions based on rational expectations drawn from their past experiences.
Lucas opposed government spending to replace private investment and policies that reduce inequality by redistributing income. He advocated for the abolition of taxes on capital gains and any income derived from capital and supported supply-side economics, which increases the supply of goods and services while cutting taxes to encourage job creation, business expansion, and entrepreneurial activity.
Lucas believed that the principles that fostered economic growth in rich countries could also be applied to economic development in poor countries. He saw economists as storytellers who use imagination and ideas to get serious about reality.
Lucas was born in Yakima, Washington, in 1937. His father ran an ice cream parlor that went bankrupt during the Great Depression, and his family later moved to Seattle. Lucas studied history in college and received his doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago in 1964. He worked at Carnegie Mellon University from 1963 to 1974 before returning to the University of Chicago. He was married to Rita Cohen from 1959 to 1982 and had two sons, Stephen and Joseph. Lucas’s partner, Professor Nancy L. Stokey, collaborated on some of his work.