Milton Friedman was a well-known American economist and University of Chicago statistics professor. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. He is most known for his theoretical and empirical research work in consumption analysis, monetary history, and theory for highlighting the complexity of stabilization policy among other economists and researchers. He served as an economic counselor to President Ronald Reagan of the United States. Many governments follow his political theory, which promotes the benefits of a free market economic system with minimal government intervention. His work had a significant impact on the research agenda. He was also the director of the University of Chicago’s Chicago School of Economics. Monographs, books, scholarly articles, papers, magazine columns, television programs, films, and lectures are among Milton Friedman’s works. He published about microeconomics, macroeconomics, economic history, and public policy challenges, among other things. He pushed on government interference in the economy, despite being a Keynesian backer of the New Deal. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice was established as a result of his efforts. He was dubbed “the most important economist of the second half of the twentieth century…possibly of all time” by The Economist. He was a prolific writer who, in addition to writing novels, contributed to a variety of magazines on a regular basis. His final column was published a day after his death at the age of ninety-four in ‘The Wall Street Journal.’
Childhood and Adolescence
Milton Friedman was born in Brooklyn, New York, on July 31, 1912. His parents were Jewish emigrants from Beregszász in Carpathian Ruthenia, Kingdom of Hungary, Jen Saul Friedman and Sára Ethel (née Landau) (now Berehove in Ukraine). Friedman was the youngest of four children born to his parents.
The family moved to Rahway, New Jersey, when he was a year old. His mother founded a dry goods store there, and his father worked in numerous jobs. Despite the family’s financial difficulties, they always had enough to eat, and the atmosphere at home was always warm and welcoming.
Friedman graduated from Rahway High School in 1928. Unfortunately, his father had died at this time, leaving his family in a worsening financial situation. It became evident that if he wanted to continue his education, he’d have to pay for it himself.
Fortunately, he got accepted to Rutgers University on a competitive scholarship. He received his B.A. degree in 1932, focusing in mathematics and economics, while working odd jobs to cover the remainder of his costs.
Following that, he received a scholarship to the University of Chicago, where he got his M.A. degree in 1933. He was then awarded a fellowship at Columbia University, where he studied statistics with Harold Hotelling from 1933 to 1934.When he returned to Chicago, he worked as a research assistant for Henry Schultz for the 1934-1935 academic year. However, his financial situation necessitated that he find work right away.
In the Public Sector
Friedman arrived to Washington in 1935 after being unable to find work in academia. He began working for the National Resources Committee. He worked on a massive consumer budget survey here, which led to his 1957 book, ‘Theory of the Consumption Function.’
He then transferred to the National Bureau of Economic Research in the autumn of 1937. He was hired as Simon Kuznets’ assistant and began working for him on a professional basis.
He was hired as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1940. Unfortunately, the university’s anti-Semitic climate, as well as political differences among the professors, drove him to depart.
He went on to work as an advisor for the US Treasury Department in 1941. He mostly worked on wartime tax strategies and advocated for a Keynesian tax policy.
The Academic Profession
Friedman began working as a mathematical statistician at Columbia University’s Division of War Research in 1943. He stayed at this location till the end of WWII. During this time, he mostly worked on issues relating to weapon design and military tactics.
He then worked as an associate professor at the University of Minnesota from 1945 to 1946. In 1945, he also submitted his PhD dissertation to Columbia University, titled ‘Incomes from Independent Professional Practice,’ which he co-authored with Simon Kuznets. In 1946, he received his bachelor’s degree.
In the same year, he started as an Associate Professor of Economic Theory at the University of Chicago. He spent thirty years at the institution and regarded it to be his intellectual home.
He attended the Mont Pèlerin Society’s inaugural conference in 1947, an organization dedicated to the study and preservation of free communities. He became actively involved in the country’s political process after being inspired by the talks.
He was appointed to the rank of full professor in 1948. The Director of Research at the National Bureau of Economic Research encouraged him to rejoin the institution the following year. He worked on the role of money in the business cycle when he was there.
At the same time, he continued to teach courses in pricing theory and monetary economics at the University of Chicago. In 1950, he was hired as a consultant by the US government department in charge of implementing the Marshall Plan. He worked on the Schuman Plan, which was the forerunner to the common market, while he was there.
He founded the University of Chicago’s Workshop on Money and Banking in 1953. It quickly became a valuable resource for both academics and graduate students.
He was invited as a Fulbright Visiting Fellow to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, in 1954, and spent the 1954-1955 academic year there. Despite the fact that his liberal beliefs were judged ‘extreme’ by Cambridge standards, he was able to achieve this.
His first important study, ‘Theory of the Consumption Function,’ was published in 1957. The project began in 1935, while he was working at the National Resources Committee on a big consumer budget.
Friedman was awarded Distinguished Service Professor of Economics by Paul Snowden Russell in 1962. In the same year, he released ‘Capitalism and Freedom,’ a significant work. The book, which he co-wrote with his wife, Rose D. Friedman, cemented his reputation as a brilliant economist and policymaker.
Then, in 1963, he collaborated with Anna J. Schwartz on a book called “Monetary History of the United States.” He was previously solely known within the academic community, but his publications established him as a well-known figure outside of that circle.
Public Figure: Milton Friedman
Despite the fact that he continued to teach at the University of Chicago, he was more drawn into the public eye. He worked as an economic counselor to Senator Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential candidate in 1964.
Despite the fact that Goldwater was lost, the campaign helped to spread Friedman’s ideas to a larger audience. Friedman then began writing a weekly current events column for ‘Newsweek’ magazine in 1966 and kept doing so until 1984.
He then served as an economic advisor to Richard Nixon during his presidential campaign in 1968. Friedman was appointed to a commission to investigate the feasibility of returning to an all-volunteer military force after his election. It culminated in the military draft being abolished in 1973.
Despite his strong interest in public affairs, Friedman continually turned down full-time government jobs. Instead, he began to focus his efforts outside of government on advocating his public policy convictions.
Freidman visited Chile for six days in 1975, during the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, and offered a series of economics lectures. Despite widespread criticism, he maintained that only economic changes and the implementation of a free market strategy could restore democracy in Chile.
He traveled to South Africa and Rhodesia later that decade to give a series of talks. He also visited China and Iceland, where he spoke on the free market.
The Later Years
Friedman left the University of Chicago in 1977 to become a Senior Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, where he remained until his death in 2006. He worked as a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco at the same time.
He also worked on ‘Free to Choose,’ a ten-episode television program in which he articulated his economic and social theory, sometime in the late 1970s. In January 1980, the first episode aired. It has since been exhibited in a number of different nations.
Friedman also acted as an unofficial consultant to Ronald Reagan during his presidential campaign in 1980. Following that, he was a member of President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board.
In 1983, he was named the University of Chicago’s Paul Snowdon Russell Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics. He continued to write for a variety of publications and appeared on a variety of television shows.
Major Projects of Milton
The most important work of Freidman is thought to be ‘Capitalism and Freedom.’ Since its first publication in 1962, the book has been translated into eighteen languages and has sold over half a million copies. In it, Freidman argued that economic liberty is a prerequisite for political liberty.
Achievements & Awards
Friedman was awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in 1976 for his “contributions to consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and observations of the intricacy of stabilization policy.”
He was also awarded the John Bates Clark Medal in 1951, the National Medal of Science in 1988, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1993. (1988).
Personal History and Legacy
Friedman met Rose Director, a shy but talented student in the same department, in 1932 while studying at Chicago University. Six years later, in 1938, they married. She was a free market economist as well, and the two frequently interacted professionally.
Janet and David Friedman were the couple’s two children. David went on to become a well-known economist, legal researcher, and libertarian thinker, best known for his book ‘The Machinery of Freedom,’ published in 1973.
Friedman died of heart failure on November 16, 2006, in San Francisco. He was continually active in research and contributed to many journals despite the fact that he was 94 years old at the time of his death.
His legacy lives on through the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, which he cofounded with his wife in 1996.
Estimated Net worth
Milton is one of the wealthiest historians and one of the most well-known historians. Milton Friedman’s net worth is estimated to be around $1.5 million.