July 31, 2018

ON THIS DAY IN 1912, MILTON FRIEDMAN WAS BORN: Here is something I find interesting about his birth:

The hand that rocks the economist’s cradle rules the study of economics for generations. His mother—Sarah Ethel Landau Friedman—emigrated from Carpathian Ruthenia (a flea-bitten part of what was then considered the Kingdom of Hungary) when she was 14. She started out working as a seamstress in a sweatshop—an opportunity she was delighted to have. She later went into business with her husband in a dry goods store and an ice cream parlor (both of which she ran). Contrast that with John Maynard Keynes’s upbringing in a prominent British family.   His mother, Florence Ada Keynes, who, like Sarah, was a formidable woman, is most often referred to as a “social reformer” or a “politician.”

It’s fun to imagine how the study of economics (and maybe the world’s economy) would have been different if Sarah had gotten her first job with the government (or if the Keynes family’s fortunes had gone seriously south, forcing Florence to open a rooming house).

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