World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Robert Fogel

Article Id: WHEBN0001162218
Reproduction Date:

Title: Robert Fogel  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: James M. Buchanan, George Stigler, Milton Friedman, List of Nobel laureates by university affiliation, Social savings
Collection: 1926 Births, 2013 Deaths, 20Th-Century Economists, Academics of the University of Cambridge, American Economists, American Historians, American Male Writers, American Nobel Laureates, American People of Russian-Jewish Descent, Auxologists, Columbia University Alumni, Cornell University Alumni, Economic Historians, Fellows of the Econometric Society, Harvard University Faculty, Historians of the Southern United States, Historians of the United States, Jewish American Historians, Jewish American Social Scientists, Johns Hopkins University Alumni, Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences, Nobel Laureates in Economics, Stuyvesant High School Alumni, University of Chicago Faculty, University of Rochester Faculty, Writers from New York City
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Robert Fogel

Robert Fogel
Born (1926-07-01)July 1, 1926
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died June 11, 2013(2013-06-11) (aged 86)
Oak Lawn, Illinois, U.S.
Nationality American
Field Economic history
School or tradition
Chicago School
Alma mater Stuyvesant High School
Cornell University
Columbia University
Johns Hopkins University
Awards Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (1993)
Bancroft Prize (1975)
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Robert William Fogel (July 1, 1926 – June 11, 2013) was an American economic historian and scientist, and winner (with Douglass North) of the 1993 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. As of his death, he was the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of American Institutions[1] and director of the Center for Population Economics (CPE)[2] at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. He is best known as a leading advocate of New economic history or cliometrics—the use of quantitative methods in history.


  • Life and career 1
  • Contributions 2
    • Cliometrics and Railroads and American Economic Growth 2.1
    • Slavery and Time on the Cross 2.2
    • Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery 2.3
    • The Fourth Great Awakening 2.4
    • Later work 2.5
  • The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences 3
  • Writings 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Life and career

Fogel was born in Johns Hopkins University in 1963.

He began his research career as an assistant professor at the University of Rochester in 1960. In 1964 he moved to the University of Chicago as an associate professor. From 1968 to 1975 he was also a visiting professor at Rochester in autumn semesters. During this time he completed some of his most important works, including Time on the Cross (in collaboration with Stanley Engerman). He also mentored a large group of students and researchers in economic history, including his colleague Deirdre McCloskey at Chicago. In 1975 he left for Harvard University, and from 1978 on he worked as a research associate under the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1981 he returned to the University of Chicago, where he directed the newly created Center for Population Economics at the Booth School of Business.

Fogel researched and wrote on numerous fields in his career, including not only economic history but also demographics, physiology, sociology of the family, nutrition, China's economic development, philosophy of science, and other related fields. He integrated insights from such diverse fields in his attempts to explain important historical phenomena such as the dramatic fall in mortality rates from the 18th to the 20th century. His former colleague Deirdre McCloskey credits Fogel with "reuniting economics and history". He advised many students who went on to become prominent economic historians, so that many economic historians in the United States trace their academic linage to him.

Fogel married Enid Cassandra Morgan, an African-American woman, in 1949 and had two children. The couple faced significant difficulties at the time due to anti-miscegenation laws and prevalent sentiments against interracial marriages.

Fogel died on June 11, 2013, at a health services center in Oak Lawn, Illinois of a short illness, aged 86.[5][6][7]


Cliometrics and Railroads and American Economic Growth

Fogel's first major study involving cliometrics was Railroads and American Economic Growth: Essays in Econometric History (1964). This tract sought to quantify the railroads' contribution to U.S. economic growth in the 19th century. Its argument and method were each rebuttals to a long line of non-numeric historical arguments that had ascribed much to expansionary effect to railroads without rigorous reference to economic data. Fogel argued against these previous historical arguments to show that onset of the railroad was not indispensable to the American economy. Examining the transportation of agricultural goods, Fogel compared the 1890 economy to a hypothetical 1890 economy in which transportation infrastructure was limited to wagons, canals, and natural waterways. Fogel pointed out that the absence of railroads would have substantially increased transportation costs from farms to primary markets, particularly in the Midwest, and changed the geographic location of agricultural production. Despite this consideration, the overall increase in transportation costs, i.e., the "social savings" attributable to railroads, was small – about 2.7% of 1890 GNP. The potential for substitute technologies, such as a more extensive canal system or improved roads, would have further lowered the importance of railroads. The conclusion that railroads were not indispensable to economic development made a controversial name for cliometrics.

Slavery and Time on the Cross

Fogel's most famous and controversial work is gang system" of labor on cotton plantations), they argued, Southern slave farms were more productive, per unit of labor, than northern farms. The implications of this, Engerman and Fogel contended, is that slavery in the American South was not quickly going away on its own (as it had in some historical instances such as ancient Rome) because, despite its exploitative nature, slavery was immensely profitable and productive for slave owners. This contradicted the argument of earlier Southern historians.

A portion of Time on the Cross focused on how slave owners treated their slaves. Engerman and Fogel argued that because slave owners approached slave production as a business enterprise, there were some limits on the amount of exploitation and oppression they inflicted on the slaves. According to Engerman and Fogel, slaves in the American South lived better than did many industrial workers in the North. Fogel based this analysis largely on plantation records and claimed that slaves worked less, were better fed and whipped only occasionally—although the authors were careful to state explicitly that slaves were still exploited in ways which were not captured by measures available from records. This portion of Time on the Cross created a firestorm of controversy, although it was not directly related to the central argument of the book—that Southern slave plantations were profitable for the slave owners and would not have disappeared in the absence of the Civil War. Some criticisms mistakenly considered Fogel an apologist for slavery. In fact, Fogel objected to slavery on moral grounds; he thought that on purely economic grounds, slavery was not unprofitable or inefficient as previous historians such as Ulrich B. Phillips had argued.

Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery

1n 1989 Fogel published Without Consent or Contract The Rise and Fall of American Slavery as a response to criticism stemming from what some perceived as the cold and calculating conclusions found in his earlier work, Time on the Cross. In it he very clearly spells out a moral indictment of slavery when he references things such as the high infant mortality rate from overworked pregnant women, and the cruel slave hierarchies established by their masters. He does not write so much on what he had already established in his previous work, and instead focuses on how such an economically efficient system was threatened and ultimately abolished. Using the same measurement techniques he used in his previous work, he analyzed a mountain of evidence pertaining to the lives of slaves, but he focuses much more on the social aspects versus economics this time. He both illustrates how incredibly hard and life-threatening the work of a slave was, as well as how they were able to form their own culture as a resistance to slavery. His main point ultimately comes across, though, as he explains how a small group of very vocal and committed religious reformers led the fight against slavery until it became a political force that captured the attention of the President of the United States. His book delves deeply into why some of America's most widely respected leaders went from seeing slavery as a highly profitable workforce (which his findings indicate as true) to something that must be abolished on moral grounds.

The Fourth Great Awakening

In 2000 Fogel published The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism in which he argued that America has been moving cyclically toward greater equality, largely because of the influence of religion, especially evangelicalism. Building on his work on the demise of slavery, he proposed that since evangelicalism was largely responsible for ending the institution he found to be economically profitable, that religion would continue to fuel America's moral development. Fogel diagrammed four "Great Awakenings", called (by others) "The Fogel Paradigm." "Fogel’s paradigm is drawn from what he believes are cycles of ethical challenges America has undergone provoked by technological innovations that create moral crises that, in turn, are resolved by evangelical awakenings."[8]

Later work

Fogel was the director of the Center for Population Economics (CPE)[2] at the University of Chicago and the principal investigator of the NIH-funded Early Indicators of Later Work Levels, Disease and Death project, which draws on observations from military pension records of over 35,000 Union Army veterans.

Much of Fogel's late writing incorporated the concept of technophysio evolution, a process that he described as "the synergism between rapid technological change and the improvement in human physiology."[9] By using height as a proxy for health and general well-being, Fogel observed dramatic improvements in health, body size, and mortality over the past 200 years. This phenomenon is examined more fully in The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700–2100: Europe, America, and the Third World and The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World since 1700 (both published by Cambridge University Press).

The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

In 1993, Robert Fogel received, jointly with fellow economic historian Douglass C. North, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences "for having renewed research in economic history by applying economic theory and quantitative methods in order to explain economic and institutional change". In his Nobel lecture,[10] titled "Economic growth, population theory, and physiology: the bearing of long-term processes on the making of economic policy", he emphasises his work done on the question of nutrition and economic growth.


  • The Union Pacific Railroad: A Case in Premature Enterprise, 1960.
  • Railroads and American Economic Growth: Essays in Econometric History, 1964.
  • Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery, 2 volumes, 1974. (co-written with Stanley Engerman)
  • Which Road to the Past?, 1983.
  • Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery, 2 volumes, 1989, ISBN 9780393312195.
  • Economic Growth, Population Theory and Physiology: The Bearings of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy, 1994.
  • The Slavery Debates, 1952–1990: A Retrospective . Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2003. 106 pp. ISBN 0-8071-2881-3.
  • The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
  • The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700–2100: Europe, America, and the Third World. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004. 189pp. ISBN 0-521-80878-2.
  • The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World since 1700 (co-written with Roderick Floud, Bernard Harris, and Sok Chul Hong), Cambridge University Press, New York 2011 ISBN 978-0-521-87975-0
  • Explaining Long-Term Trends in Health and Longevity, 2012.
  • Political Arithmetic: Simon Kuznets and the Empirical Tradition in Economics (co-written with Enid M. Fogel, Mark Guglielmo, and Nathaniel Grotte), University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2013 ISBN 978-0-226-25661-0

See also


  1. ^ "Robert W Fogel | The University of Chicago Booth School of Business". 1985-07-09. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  2. ^ a b Center for Population Economics
  3. ^ a b 
  4. ^ Gibson, Lydialyle (May–June 2007). "The human equation". The University of Chicago Magazine ( 
  5. ^ "Robert Fogel, Won Nobel Prize in Economics, 1926–2013". University of Chicago. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  6. ^ Arnold, Laurence (1926-07-01). "Robert Fogel, Nobel Laureate for Economic History, Dies at 86". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  7. ^ Cronin, Brenda (2012-04-17). "Robert Fogel, Nobel Laureate, Dies – Real Time Economics – WSJ". Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  8. ^ Carpenter, John B. "The Fourth Great Awakening or Apostasy: Is American Evangelicalism Cycling Upward or Spiraling Downward," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 44/4 (December 2001), p. 647.
  9. ^ Fogel, R. W. (2004). "Technophysio evolution and the measurement of economic growth". Journal of Evolutionary Economics 14 (2): 217–221.  
  10. ^ "Robert William Fogel – Prize Lecture: Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy". 1993-12-09. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  • Conrad, Alfred H.;  
  • David, Paul; et al. (1976). Reckoning with Slavery: A Critical Study in the Quantitative History of American Negro Slavery. New York: Oxford University Press.  
  • Goldin, Claudia;Rockoff, Hugh [edd.] (1992). Strategic Factors in the Nineteenth Century American Economic History: A Volume to Honor Robert W. Fogel. Chicago:  
  • Parish, Peter (1989). Slavery: History and Historians. New York: Harper.  
  • Whaples, Robert (1995). "Where Is There Consensus among American Economic Historians? The Results of a Survey on Forty Propositions". Journal of Economic History 55 (1): 139–154.  

External links

  • Nobel prize autobiography
  • Review of Fogel's "Escape from Hunger and Premature Death"
  • Railroads and American Economic GrowthLance Davis review essay on Fogel's
  • Time on the CrossThomas Weiss review essay on Fogel and Engerman's
  • Time on the CrossPodcast Interview with co-author Stanley Engerman on on EconTalk at Econlib
  • Fogel interviewed by Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley, Conversations with History, 2004
  • Feature article in The University of Chicago magazine
  • Robert W. Fogel (1926–2013).  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.