Robert W. Fogel | Economist, 86

Posted: June 15, 2013

Robert W. Fogel, 86, a University of Chicago economist whose study of the economics of slavery sparked a furious debate in academia and later helped win him a Nobel Prize, died Tuesday.

The university announced Mr. Fogel's death; his family said he died after a brief illness.

Mr. Fogel wrote 22 books, the last published in April, and, according to the school, was an active faculty member in the Department of Economics and the Booth School of Business who was working on three more books at the time of his death.

His work on slavery brought Mr. Fogel the most attention. In Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery, published in 1974, Mr. Fogel and coauthor Stanley Engerman "challenged the long-held assumption, by then taken as fact, that slavery was unprofitable, inefficient, and in decline in the years leading up to the Civil War," according to an article the school released. Instead, Mr. Fogel and Engerman concluded that farms where slaves were used were as productive as those where they were not.

Mr. Fogel spent decades at Chicago, joining the faculty in 1964. After leaving for Harvard University in 1975, he returned to the university in 1981.

In 1993, Mr. Fogel shared the Nobel Prize in economics with Douglass North, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis. - AP

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