Friday, July 10, 2020

Death Comes To My Old Economics Department

That would be the one at my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  I have learned that on July 6 one of its current members died, Bill Sandholm, an excellent evolutionary game theorist who was about 50 years old.  It is a sign of my age that he always seemed quite young to me, barely older than my oldest daughter, and now he is dead.  He was a very nice guy, aside from being a very capable economist who was the Richard Stockwell Professor of Economics and once helped me out with a paper that was in a Revise and Resubmit condition.

I bring this up because there is an unconfirmed rumor that he died of complications of Covid-19, with for the moment nobody that I know, including members of the department, knowing what he died of.  If the rumor is correct, he will be the first person I knew personally to die of this dreadful pandemic.  It does bring it rather home.

It also does so because it probably puts the final nail into any plan to visit Madison this summer, which I have done almost every summer if for no other reason than having family members there I wish to see, not to mention some friends still, and it being a very pleasant place to visit in the summer, cooler than Virginia where i live. Indeed, Plan A had been to be there last weekend, but that got put off due to the pandemic.  I had still thought of possibly going maybe at the beginning of August or thereabouts for a quick pop-in.  But now apparently there has been a new spike of cases there and in Wisconsin more broadly, something my daughter who lives there had informed us of just in the last couple of days accompanied by discouraging noises about trying to go there.  And now I have learned about this new development, although it may be that the rumor is false.  But it does seem to be a final hammer hit on any plans to visit that fair city I am so much attached to for now.

Barkley Rosser


Anonymous said...

The death is saddening.

However, we are running at 60,000 new coronavirus cases daily and this illness can be lastingly severe. There is unfortunately community spread of the infection in much of the country. Caution is and will be necessary for a considerable while.

I am sorry.

ilsm said...

50ish is young to die in normal times, no less worthy of our notice and regard in these days.

I hope he lived a good life.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear of the loss of your friend.

Anonymous said...

Not COVID: said...

I have just learned, and this appears to be definitive despite some people still spreading the rumor I reported in this post, that Bill went the way that fellow economists Alan Auerbach and Martin Weitzman did in the last two years, by his own hand. I know no further details, but this is very sad, and I fear this particular matter is becoming a serious problem among my profession. I shall only add that many knew that Auerbach and Weitzman sjuffered from depression, but I had never heard anybody say that about Bill, and he was always an upbeat and apparently reasonably happy person whenever I interacted with htm, although that had been several years now.

Anonymous said...

I think you mean Alan Krueger

ilsm said...

I am well acquainted with two men; late 60's and mid 70's who suffer from similar dangerous disease 'processes'. One has a manic phase which is pretty cool, in the other 'swing' he tended to get out of everyone's way. Both have been lucky to know when to seek help and have strong family support, I continue to hope neither goes too far down without getting help.

These past few Covid 19 months are a huge challenge for them.

It is difficult for family, friends, associates to endure such a loss.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry, so very sorry. This is such a trying time for so many.

Anonymous said...

July 10, 2020



Cases   ( 3,272,393)
Deaths   ( 136,367)

Anonymous said...

I know no further details, but this is very sad, and I fear this particular matter is becoming a serious problem among my profession...

[ Forgive me, but the problem is serious much beyond this profession. ]

Anonymous said...

March 23, 2020
Why Americans Are Dying from Despair
The unfairness of our economy, two economists argue, can be measured not only in dollars but in deaths.
By Atul Gawande

It all started with a bad back. For more than a decade, the Princeton economist Anne Case had suffered from chronic lower-back pain, and nothing seemed to help. She’d made her name studying the connections between health and economic patterns in people’s lives; her research showed, for instance, a connection between your health in early childhood, or even in utero, and your economic status later in life. So she decided to research the patterns of pain in the population. And as she pulled on this thread she found a bigger, more alarming story than she ever expected.

The question she began with, in 2014, was whether pain had grown more or less prevalent in the United States over the past few decades. Given advances in labor-saving technologies and in pain treatments, she expected that the prevalence reported in population surveys would have fallen. Instead, it had gone up. Some hundred million Americans now suffer from chronic pain—that is, they’ve been in pain on most days for the past three months. And the rates are especially high in middle age: Americans in their fifties, unlike their counterparts in other countries, have higher rates of chronic pain than those in their seventies and eighties.

Case’s husband, Angus Deaton, is also an economist at Princeton. In 2013, he published a sweeping economic history, “The Great Escape,” which traced the way people had become healthier and wealthier in the past couple of centuries, though at a cost to economic equality. During his research, he’d noticed that people’s happiness was largely disconnected from this story. As wealth rose, so did health and quality of life; happiness did not necessarily follow. He was struck, then, when his wife told him that pain rates had not declined, either.... said...

I apologize. It was Alan Krueger, not Auerbach. I am out of it this afternoon, with a number of disturbing things on my mind.

BTW, the econ dept at UW has not issued an official notice that Bill "ended his own life." Although he did a good job of covering it up, apparently he had suffered from depression for some time. I apologize for all my misinformation regarding this upsetting matter.

Anonymous said...

No apology necessary, not in the least.

2slugbaits said...

I fear this particular matter is becoming a serious problem among my profession.

Whenever I hear of an economist committing suicide I'm reminded of a young University of Chicago economist who took his own life back when I was a kid in the mid-1960s. I grew up in a small upscale Chicago suburb and a lot of economists called it home. Over the years George Schultz, Beryl Sprinkel and George Stigler all called it home. So did John Dean. And the historian Michael Beschloss was in my sister's class. The point is that it was a small village of privilege. The man who lived across the street from us was also a young economist at the University of Chicago, although back then I didn't have the foggiest idea what an economist was. Even though I was just a kid, I always got the sense that there was something profoundly melancholy about him. It's as though he lived behind a veil of tears. He wasn't mean or anything, but as kids we all instinctively avoided him because he had the aura of a Debbie Downer. One night he took an overdose and left behind a wife and two kids. The boy was a couple years younger than I was. Years later my mom explained to me that it was not an accidental overdose, which was the official story. He had left a note, but the neighbor found the note before the police arrived. I'm always reminded of that incident whenever I hear about another economist committing suicide.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(Trump re-election theme:
Make America Authoritarian!)

As Trump Pushes Into Portland, His Campaign Ads Turn Darker

NY Times - July 21

As President Trump deploys federal agents to Portland, Ore., and threatens to dispatch more to other cities, his re-election campaign is spending millions of dollars on several ominous television ads that promote fear and dovetail with his political message of “law and order.”

The influx of agents in Portland has led to scenes of confrontations and chaos that Mr. Trump and his White House aides have pointed to as they try to burnish a false narrative about Democratic elected officials allowing dangerous protesters to create widespread bedlam.

The Trump campaign is driving home that message with a new ad that tries to tie its dark portrayal of Democratic-led cities to Mr. Trump’s main rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr. — with exaggerated images intended to persuade viewers that lawless anarchy would prevail if Mr. Biden won the presidency. The ad simulates a break-in at the home of an older woman and ends with her being attacked while she waits on hold for a 911 call, as shadowy, dark intruders flicker in the background.

So far, the campaign has spent almost $20 million over the last 20 days on that ad and two other similar ones, more than Mr. Biden has spent on his total television budget in the same time frame, and a relatively large sum for this stage of the race. Though the ads predate the federal actions in Portland, they convey a common theme of lawlessness under Democratic leadership.

The focus of the Trump administration in recent days has been on Portland, where there have been nightly protests for weeks denouncing systemic racism in policing. In the last few days, federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Marshals, traveling in unmarked cars, have swooped protesters off the street without explaining why, in some cases detaining them and in other cases letting them go because they were not actually suspects. The protests have increased in size since the arrival of federal officials. ...