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July 1, 2002 Press Contact: William Harms
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Jean Bowman Anderson, Professor in Economics and Education, 1908-2002

Jean Bowman Anderson, a leading University of Chicago economist who studied the economic value of education, who wrote one of the most widely used economics textbooks, and who, as a woman, was a pioneer in an overwhelmingly male discipline, died Monday, June 24th, at her home in Hyde Park. She was 93.

Bowman is best known for her work in applying human capital theory to the study of education. "She was one of the leaders in studying the impact of education on occupation, earnings and unemployment," said Nobel Prize winner Gary Becker, a Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago.

"Jean was an extraordinary person who might well have been one of the University's Nobel Prize winners had she not chosen a somewhat different career path," said Robert Myers, a former student of Bowman's who is an economist and educational researcher in Mexico City.

Bowman, an empirical economist, had a remarkably varied career. She wrote six books and more than 75 articles and studied a wide-range of topics, from entrepreneurship to migration to contrasting ways in which Japanese and U.S. corporations organized themselves.

In the 1950s, she produced groundbreaking work on income distribution. In the early 60s, Bowman analyzed the economics of poverty-stricken Eastern Kentucky (at the time, one of the nation's poorest areas). Later, much of Bowman's research focused on economies outside the United States; she completed books based on research in the Ivory Coast and Japan.

Bowman is also widely known for co-authoring the basic economics textbook Economic Analysis and Public Policy (commonly known as "Bowman and Bach") the most popular economics textbook at U.S. universities during the 1940s and 1950s. It was also notably the first book to deal with the concept of oligopoly.

"She was a feminist by virtue of what she did and achieved," said Becker, a colleague of Anderson's during the 60s and 70s. Though Bowman was a rarity as a female economist, Becker said, "she never wanted to be identified as a female economist. She wanted to be known as just an economist. She believed in equal opportunity," said Becker, "but she never wanted to get a privilege because she was a woman."

Much of her work as an economist was done in the field of economics and education. She held a dual appointment in the Departments of Economics and Education at the University of Chicago, and often collaborated with her late husband, C. Arnold Anderson, a sociologist and the longtime director of the University's Comparative Education Center.

Born in New York City on October 17, 1908, and raised in Newton Center, Mass., Bowman received a B.A. in Economics from Vassar College in 1930, an M.A. in Economics from Radcliffe College in 1932, and her Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 1938.

In the early 1940s, Bowman became part of what is known as the Iowa State oleomargarine diaspora. She was a teacher and researcher at Iowa State College, when the President of the University infamously declared that the school's scientists should support the claim that "butter is better than margarine." In 1943, Bowman, along with her husband, Theodore W. Schultz , D. Gale Johnson and others who became leading social scientists, left Iowa State in protest.

Bowman worked as price economist for the U.S government and as a visiting lecturer at the University of California-Berkeley before arriving at the University of Chicago, along with her husband, in 1949.

Part of the reason she came to Chicago is because of the encouragement of Theodore W. Schultz, her mentor at Iowa State. (Bowman later analyzed Theodore W. Schultz's work for the Nobel committee when Schultz was awarded the Nobel in 1979.)

Because of the University's strict "nepotism rules," Bowman was teaching at the University, but not awarded a faculty appointment, as an associate professor in the Department of Economics, until 1958.

As her interest in education developed, she increasingly collaborated with her husband, sociologist C. Arnold Anderson, who was director of the Center for Comparative Education. In the 1960s, they co-edited Education and Economic Development and co-authored Commentary on Aid Education Programs in Africa.

A frequent consultant to the U.S government on economic development issues, Bowman was also a member of many distinguished organizations, including the American Economic Association. She retired from the University of Chicago in 1974.

But she continued to be intellectually curious after her active teaching and research days. "Even in her 80s," said Myers, "Jean spent several years in philosophy courses offered through continuing education programs at the University of Chicago, where the other students were a third her age." Bowman also dabbled in painting and poetry, and traveled to Easter Island in her mid-80s.

Bowman was preceded in death by her husband. She is survived by a son, Lloyd Anderson, of Washington, D.C.
Last modified at 04:29 PM CST on Thursday, February 27, 2003.

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