Becker Friedman Institute
for Research in Economics
The University of Chicago

Research. Insights. Impact. Advancing the Legacy of Chicago Economics.

Milton Friedman, 1912–2006

A Lifetime of Powerful Ideas
1912

Born July 31 in Brooklyn, N.Y., the fourth and last child of Sarah and Jeno Friedman, immigrants from Carpatho-Ruthenia, then a province of Austria-Hungary. He grew up in Rahway, New Jersey.

1928

Graduated from Rahway High School just before his 16th birthday. His father died during his senior year in high school, leaving his mother plus two older sisters to support the family.

1932

Graduated from Rutgers University. Attending on competitive scholarships, he studied mathematics, intending to become an actuary, but became interested in economics.

Enrolled at UChicago, which “opened new worlds.” He later wrote, “Jacob Viner, Frank Knight, Henry Schultz, Lloyd Mints, Henry Simons and a brilliant group of graduate students from all over the world exposed me to a cosmopolitan and vibrant intellectual atmosphere of a kind that I had never dreamed existed. I have never recovered.”

1933

Earned a Master of Arts in Economics at the University of Chicago. It was also at the University that he met his future wife, Rose Director.

1934

Returned to UChicago, spending a year as research assistant to Henry Schultz.He met and formed a lifelong friendship with fellow students George J. Stigler and W. Allen Wallis.

1935

Worked in Washington at the National Resources Committee on the design of a large consumer budget study then under way. This work later became a principal component of his Theory of the Consumption Function.

1937

Worked at the National Bureau of Economic Research, assisting Simon Kuznets in studies of professional income. This work became his doctoral dissertation at Columbia and introduced the concepts of permanent and transitory income.

1938

Married Rose Director, a fellow economics student who was seated near him alphabetically in his first year of graduate studies. She was a lifelong n active partner in his professional work.

1943

Rose gives birth to their first child, Janet.

Worked at the U.S. Treasury Department for two years on wartime tax policy and at Columbia as a mathematical statistician on problems of weapon design, military tactics, and metallurgical experiments.

1945

His son, David, is born.

Joined George Stigler on the faculty of the University of Minnesota.

1946

Joined the University of Chicago faculty to teach economic theory, and rejoined the NBER to take responsibility for its study of the role of money in the business cycle.

1950

Spent the fall in Paris as a consultant to the U.S. governmental agency administering the Marshall Plan This sparked his interest in floating exchange rates.

1951

Won the John Bates Clark Medal, presented to the best economist under age 40.

1962

Published Capitalism and Freedom, the volume for which Friedman is perhaps best known by the general public.

1963

With coauthor Anna J. Schwartz, he published the monumental A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960.

1964

Served as an economic adviser to Senator Goldwater in his presidential run.

1966

Launched a regular column on economic affairs in Newsweek that ran until 1988.

1980

Free To Choose and PBS broadcast a television program representing Friedman's economic and social philosophy. Friedman also publishes the companion book of the series, which becomes the bestselling nonfiction book of the year.

1967

Served as president of the American Economic Association.

1968

Served as an economic advisor to the Nixon presidential campaign.

1975

Traveled to Chile during an economic crisis and gave a series of seven lectures on economic freedom.

1976

Awarded the Nobel Prize in 1976, the 200th anniversary of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

1977

Retired from active teaching at the University of Chicago, remaining linked to the Economics Department and its research activities, and was named a Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

1978

Began production work on the PBS television series Free to Choose, filming around the world. The 10-part series aired in 1980.

1980

Advises the Reagan campaign and serves as a member of the President's Economic Policy Advisory Board during his presidency. Makes his first trip to China.

1982

Published Monetary Trends in the United States and the United Kingdom, the last major output of more than three decades of collaboration with Anna J. Schwartz.

1988

Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science.

1996

To promote his longstanding interest in school vouchers, he established The Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation devoted to promoting parental choice in schooling.

1998

With Rose, he publishes their memoirs, Two Lucky People.

2006

Milton Friedman died Nov. 16 at the age of 94.