Schultz, Theodore W. (Theodore William), 1902-1998

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Schultz, Theodore W. (Theodore William), 1902-1998

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Theodore William Schultz was born in Arlington, South Dakota, April 30, 1902. He was the oldest of eight children. During World War I, with labor scarce, he worked on the family farm instead of going to high school. The agricultural depression that blighted farms during the 1920s prompted him to go to college to study the underlying causes of what had happened. He studied economics at South Dakota State University and received his bachelor's degree in 1926. He then went on to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin where he received his master's and doctoral degrees in 1930. / After graduation, Schultz began his teaching career in agricultural economics at Iowa State University. Four years later he became head of the Department of Economic Sociology. During World War II, scholars at the school collaborated with outside specialists on reports demonstrating how government policy could promote the national interest by influencing agricultural production. One report recommended that margarine be substituted for butter. The Iowa Dairy Industry and the college administration tried to prevent publication. While Dr. Schultz successfully led the charge against censorship, he and several others resigned in protest in 1943. / Dr. Schultz went on to the University of Chicago. He soon became department chairman, and his leadership was credited with helping Chicago become an academic center for innovative theory. He became a Charles L. Hutchinson Distinguished Service Professor in 1952 and gained emeritus status in 1972 upon his retirement. / Schultz popularized the idea of "human capital"--the idea of treating educational spending as an investment. He was also known for his view of agriculture as a contributor to a nation's economic development, not simply a way to feed the work force in other areas of the economy. For this he war presented with the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1979, a prize he shared with Arthur Lewis. / Schultz authored several books and edited others during his long career, and he gained worldwide recognition for his investigations into investment in human resources as a means toward economic progress. He won the Francis A. Walker Medal in 1972, which is given only once every five years by the American Economics Association. He received five honorary doctoral degrees during his career from various universities, including one from South Dakota State University. His long and varied career has included serving as adviser and consultant to some of the nation's largest foundations, numerous federal agencies, the White House, and branches of the military. / Theodore married Esther Werth, a native of Frankfort, South Dakota and a graduate of South Dakota State University. They had two daughters; Elaine and Margaret and one son; T. Paul. / Theodore W. Schultz formally retired in 1972 but remained an active researcher until he fractured his hip in 1990 and became bedridden. He died February 26, 1998 in an Evanston, Illinois nursing home after suffering from pneumonia.


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