press enter after type

Harvard. Three generations of Economics Ph.D.’s. The Ruggles Dynasty



The passing of the torch from one generation in a family to another in economics is noteworthy, but hardly a rare occurrence. Everyone has heard of James and John Stuart Mill, Neville and Maynard Keynes, Robert Aaron and Margaret S. and their economist sons Robert J. and David Gordon, Bob and Anita with their bouncing Larry Summers, Richard and Jonathan Portes, as well as Ken and Jamie Galbraith, to drop only a few names. But one can honestly say that economists are underachievers in this torch-passing respect.

After all, musicians appear to find little difficulty in getting the beat to go on in the family, medical doctors seem to fall from family trees of doctors, the clergy (for religions in which sexual reproduction is a feature and not a bug) show little difficulty in begetting future clerics, and indeed the professional military is generally successful in instilling a pride of warriorship in its young. At least we economists can console ourselves that no one has (yet) composed a song with a title like “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”.

With all of this in mind, I present Economics in the Rear-view Mirror’s very first economics Ph.D. family trifecta: meet the Ruggles dynasty, three generations of Harvard economics Ph.D.’s who collectively span a century’s worth of economics right up to the present day.

I’ll let others assess the “relative” achievements of the dynasty founder, Clyde Orval Ruggles (“The economic basis of the greenback movement in Iowa and Wisconsin”, Harvard PhD, 1913),  vs. the middle-generation of Clyde’s son, Richard Francis Ruggles (“Price structure and distribution over the cycle”, Harvard PhD, 1942), and Richard’s first wife, Nancy Dunlap Ruggles (“Resource allocation and pricing systems”, Radcliffe PhD, 1949), vs. Clyde’s granddaughter, Patricia Ruggles (“The allocation of taxes and government expenditures among households in the United States”, Harvard PhD, 1980). Two remarks: (i) Appointments to a professorship at the Harvard Business School (Clyde) or to staff director of the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress and a pair of NSF fellowships (Patricia) are hardly chopped liver according to any meaningful metric; (ii) published tributes to the work of Richard and Nancy Ruggles are easy to find.

  • Barbara M. Fraumeni “Ruggles and Ruggles—A National Income Accounting Partnership” Survey of Current Business, April, 2001, 14-15. 
  • Timothy Smeeding (December 2001), In Memoriam: Richard Ruggles—a man for all seasons (1916-2001). Review of Income and Wealth, 47: 561-563.
    James Tobin (September 2001), In Memoriam: Richard Ruggles (1916-2001). Review of Income and Wealth, 47: 405–408.
  • Edward N. Wolff (September 2001), In Memoriam: Richard Ruggles (1916-2001). Review of Income and Wealth, 47: 409–415.
  • Helen Stone Tice (June 2004), Essays in Honor of Nancy and Richard Ruggles: Editor’s Introduction. Review of Income and Wealth, 50: 149-151.

Below you will find a variety of artifacts culled from public sources with (auto-)biographical information about the members of this dynasty. 


Biographical Note about Clyde Orval Ruggles from the Baker Library of Harvard Business School

Clyde Orval Ruggles was born in Fairfield, Iowa on December 7, 1878. He received his BA from Iowa State Teachers College in 1906, his MA from the University of Iowa in 1907, and his PhD from Harvard in 1913. He also received a Litt.D. from Suffolk University in 1938.

Ruggles was the head of the Department of History and Social Science at the Iowa State Teachers College from 1909-1913. He then served on the faculty of the Department of Economics at Ohio State University from 1913-1920. He left Ohio State for a year to take up the position of Head of the School of Commerce and the Department of Economics at the University of Iowa from 1920-1921. He then moved back to Ohio State in 1921, serving as the Head of the Department of Business Administration from 1921 to 1926, and as Dean of the College of Commerce and Journalism from 1926-1928.

In 1928 he came to HBS as a Professor of Public Utility Management (later amended to Professor of Public Utility Management and Regulation), a position he held until his retirement from HBS in 1948, when he became an emeritus professor. He also served as the Director of the Division of Research from 1940-1942. After his retirement from HBS, he continued to teach, lecturing at or serving on the faculties of Ohio State, Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Northeastern University.

Ruggles was a nationally known economist with diverse research interests in the areas of public utilities management and business education. In addition to his academic work, Ruggles also served as a consultant to a variety of public and private agencies and companies, including the Civil Aeronautics Board, the National Monetary Commission, the United States Shipping Board, and the Montreal Tramways Company.

Ruggles’ publications include Terminal Charges at United States Ports (1919), Problems in Public Utility Economics and Management (1933 and 1938), Aspects of the Organization, Functions and Financing of State Public Utility Commissions (1937), and numerous journal and newspaper articles.

Clyde O. Ruggles died on April 6, 1958 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Source:   Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University. Clyde O. Ruggles Papers, 1918-1957: A Finding Aid.

Image Source: Harvard Business School Yearbook 1938-39.


Clyde O. Ruggles’ Daughter Catherine G. Ruggles
Radcliffe Ph.D. Conferred, June 1937

Catherine Grace Ruggles, A.M. Subject, Economics. Special Field, Public Finance. Dissertation, “The Financial History of Cambridge, 1846-1935.” Research Assistant, Harvard Department of Economics.

Source: Radcliffe College, President’s Report 1936-37, p. 20.


American Economic Association’s Biographical Listing of Members (Dec. 1981)

Ruggles, Nancy D., 100 Prospect St., New Haven, CT 06511. Phone: Office (203)436-8583; Home (203) 777-4187. Fields: 220, 320. Birth Yr: 1922. Degrees: A.B., Pembroke Coll., 1943; Ph.D., Radcliffe Coll., 1948. Prin. Cur. Position: Sr. Res. Econ., Yale U., 1980-. Concurrent/Past Positions: Secy., Int’l. Assn. for Res. in Income & Wealth, 1961-; Asst. Dir., Statistical Off., United Nations, 1975-80. Research: Nat. acctg. systems & their integration with economic-social microdata.

Ruggles, Richard, 100 Prospect St., New Haven, CT 06511. Phone: Office (203) 436-4040; Home (203) 777-4187. Fields: 220, 320. [Birth Yr: 1916.] Degrees: A.B., Harvard Coll., 1939; M.A. Harvard U., 1941; Ph.D., Harvard U., 1942. Prin. Cur. Position: Prof. of Econs., Yale U., 1947-. Research: Nat. acctg. systems & their integration with economic-social microdata.


Source: Biographical Listing of Members in the 1981 Survey of Members (Dec., 1981) The American Economic Review, Vol. 71, No. 6. p. 354.


Richard Ruggles (1916-2001),
Noted Economic Statistician, Dies

Richard Ruggles, a member of the Yale economics faculty for nearly 40 years who was a specialist in the fields of national economic accounting and economic theory, died March 4 at his home in New Haven of complications from prostate cancer.

Professor Ruggles, who was 84, was known for developing accounting tools for measuring national income and improving price indexes used in formulating government policy. Throughout his Yale career, he conducted research for numerous government agencies and bodies, including the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the Federal Reserve Board, the Bureau of the Census and the National Bureau of Economic Research, as well as the Ford Foundation. He also served on various governmental committees concerned with economic statistics.

The economist did much of his work with his first wife, Nancy, who died in 1987. Pricing Systems, Indexes, and Price Behavior, Macro- and Microdata Analyses and Their Integration, and National Accounting and Economic Policy, collections of their work, were published in 1999.

Born on June 15, 1916, in Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Ruggles was the son of economist Clyde O. Ruggles, who taught at and was dean [sic] of the Harvard Business School. The younger Mr. Ruggles attended Harvard for both undergraduate and graduate study, earning his B.A. in 1939, an M.A. in 1941 and his Ph.D. in 1942.

After earning his doctorate, Professor Ruggles joined the Office of Strategic Services as an economist. During World War II, he worked for the office in London, where he estimated the production rates of tanks at German factories using photographs of the serial numbers from captured or destroyed tanks. In 1945-46 he was with the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey in Tokyo and Washington.

Professor Ruggles returned briefly to Harvard as an instructor in 1946 before joining the Yale faculty a year later as an assistant professor of economics. He was named an associate professor in 1949 and a full professor in 1954. He was appointed the Stanley Resor Professor of Economics in 1954. He chaired the Department of Economics from 1959 to 1962, and also served as director of undergraduate studies in the department.

Professor Ruggles and his family traveled frequently, making trips to the Soviet Union and to various developing countries, among other places.

Professor Ruggles married Caridad Navarette Kindelán in 1989. In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children, Steven Ruggles of Minneapolis, Minnesota; Patricia Ruggles of Washington, D.C.; and Catherine Ruggles of Los Angeles, California; two sisters, Catherine Ruggles Gerrish of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Rebecca Ruggles of New York City; four grandchildren; and his wife’s seven children and 13 grandchildren.


Source: Yale Bulletin & Calendar, Vol. 29, No. 23 (March 23, 2001).


Memories and Musings of Yale by Richard Ruggles (ca. 2000)

In 1939 I graduated from Harvard with my classmates, William Parker and James Tobin, and like them undertook graduate study in economics. The previous cohort of Harvard graduate students in economics was very distinguished and included Paul Samuelson, Ken Galbraith, Abe Bergson, Lloyd Reynolds, John Miller, Lloyd Metzler, Robert Triffin, Henry Wallich, and many others, including my sister Catherine Ruggles. With the outbreak of World War II, Bill Parker went into the Army and Jim Tobin went into the Navy. I managed to finish my graduate work and I went into OSS. I served in London in 1943, in Europe in 1944, and went to Japan for the Bombing Survey at the end of the war.

In 1946, I returned to Harvard as an Instructor and married Nancy Dunlap, who enrolled as a graduate student in economics at Radcliffe. At the 1946 meetings of the American Economic Association, I met John Miller, who had moved to Yale, and he invited me to give a talk at Yale. I did so and was appointed Assistant Professor. At that time Ed Lindblom, Neil Chamberlain and Challis Hall were also appointed as Assistant Professors. Although, at Harvard, Yale was viewed as a boys’ finishing school, there was a group of younger faculty members who were highly regarded. In addition to John Miller, Lloyd Reynolds had come from Harvard, and there were Max Millikan, Richard Bissell (who was always on leave) and Wight Bakke. The so-called “ice cap” consisted of pre-Keynesian economists who, for the most part, specialized in specific areas such as transportation, corporate finance, accounting, and money and banking. Generally speaking, the “ice-cap” were reasonable men, but they were oriented toward training Yale undergraduates to go out into the business world.

The newly appointed Assistant Professors were quite congenial and held Saturday night dances in the Strathcona lounge. There was, however, no role for professional women in the Economics Department so Nancy and I became consultants for the government, the United Nations, and foundations. In 1948, we went to Europe for the Economic Cooperation Administration. In the 1950s, we worked for ECA in Washington, the Ford Foundation, and the United Nations in New York. When the Korean war broke out, we were asked to create an intelligence unit for the CIA for collecting and analyzing Soviet factory markings. We hired some Yale students and employees from ECA. At Yale we developed a “Rapid Selector” project in conjunction with the Yale Electrical Engineering Department to help analyze the factory markings data collected from Korea. The “Yale Rapid Selector” was quickly made obsolete by the development of computers.

During the 1950s, Lloyd Reynolds was building up the Economics Department at Yale. He recruited Robert Triffin, Henry Wallich, and William Fellner. The Yale Economics Department was becoming known for the quality of its faculty. At that time, the Cowles Commission at the University of Chicago was unhappy with their arrangements there and approached Lloyd about coming to Yale. The arrangements for bringing Cowles to Yale were made in 1955, with Tjalling Koopmans and Jacob Marschak being appointed as Professors in the Economics Department. As part of the agreement, the Econometric Society also moved to Yale, and I agreed to serve as Secretary, with Nancy as Treasurer.

By 1959, however, friction developed between some members of the Cowles Foundation and the Chairman, Lloyd Reynolds. As a consequence I was asked to serve as chair. As Chairman I managed to recruit Joe Peck, William Parker, and Hugh Patrick, who had been an undergraduate at Yale and had participated in the CIA Korean project. However, I did not like being Chairman, and I resigned in 1962.

The Yale Economic Growth Center was established in 1961. Lloyd Reynolds and I had served as consultants to the Ford Foundation, and they had expressed an interest in establishing a center for the study of economic development at Yale. In addition, Nancy and I were actively consulting for the Agency for International Development in Washington D.C., and they also wished to foster such research. As a consequence, Lloyd Reynolds established the Yale Economic Growth Center. It had as its mission the development of “country studies” of economic development. Graduate students in economics writing their doctoral dissertations were sent to developing countries to do “country studies.” To facilitate and manage the operations, Miriam Chamberlain was appointed Executive Secretary to manage the day-to-day operations of the Growth Center. Miriam had been working at the Ford Foundation in New York and had moved back to New Haven when her husband Neil was made a Professor of Labor Economics. Mary Reynolds, wife of Lloyd Reynolds, was placed in charge of building up a library of books, documents, and data relating to developing countries. Nancy Ruggles was hired with AID funds to design the framework of data for the country studies. In addition, Nancy agreed to become the Secretary of the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, which was transferred to the Economic Growth Center from the University of Cambridge, England. All three women had Ph.D.s from Radcliffe and were highly qualified for their functions.

To some members of the Economics Department, however, the hiring of faculty wives seemed inappropriate, and in 1966 the Chairman, therefore, asked for their resignations. Simon Kuznets suggested that Nancy and I could carry out our research program at the National Bureau of Economic Research in New York. For the next decade I carried out my research activities at the NBER in New York and Washington D.C. I taught the undergraduate course of the “Economics of the Public Sector,” the Senior Honors Seminar, the graduate course in “National Accounting,” and carried out the administrative tasks of Director of Undergraduate Studies or Director of Graduate Studies in Economics.

In 1978, I transferred my research activities from the NBER to the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale. Nancy had been employed as the Assistant Director of the United Nations Statistical Office, but she also became associated with ISPS in 1980. We jointly carried out our research at ISPS until the accidental death of Nancy in 1987.


Source:   M. Ann Judd, The Yale Economics Department: Memories and Musings of Past Leaders


About Patricia Ruggles at the NORC website


Pat Ruggles
Senior Fellow
Economics, Justice, and Society

B.A., Economics, Yale University
M.A., Economics, Harvard Unversity
Ph.D., Economics, Harvard Unversity

Patricia Ruggles is a Senior Fellow with the Economics, Labor and Population Studies department. She has worked throughout her career to improve the quality of the economic and social statistics used for research and policy analysis. She has been involved in the development of methods for analyzing longitudinal data sets since the 1980s, when she was a researcher at the Urban Institute. She was an early user of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), using it to create integrated longitudinal files for the analysis of income and poverty spells over time. She served on the National Academy of Sciences Panel to evaluate the SIPP in 1989 and 1990.

Patricia has held two NSF/ASA fellowships at the Bureau of the Census, both focused on improving data quality and usability.. The analyses of poverty-related issues that came out of her first NSF fellowship contributed to her book, Drawing the Line, which analyzed the impacts of alternative poverty measures. That book led to a major review of poverty measurement by the National Academy of Sciences, and Census is now issuing a Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) that incorporates those recommendations. Patricia’s second NSF fellowship at Census focused on improving welfare program data in the SIPP, and led to her well-known work with Rebecca Blank on the dynamics of welfare spells. Patricia has also published many other studies based on the SIPP, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and other longitudinal data bases.

Patricia joined the staff of the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress in 1990, where she was concerned with data and measurement issues that affect policy analysis. In addition to a series of hearings on poverty measurement, she organized hearings on price measurement, unemployment, productivity, and other major economic indicators. She also worked extensively on issues relating to health insurance, health needs, and welfare. After a break to serve in the Clinton Administration, Patricia returned to the JEC as staff director in 2000.

In 1996 Patricia became the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Income Policy and the Chief Economist for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In that role she was responsible for an annual budget of about $20 million to oversee research on issues relating to income and poverty.

More recently, Patricia has worked at the National Academy of Sciences on projects relating to social and economic indicators and on a re-evaluation of the SIPP. She has also consulted with the city of New York on the creation of a city-specific poverty measure and with the United Nations on tracking environmental data in the context of the System of National Accounts.

Source:NORC experts webpage for Patricia Ruggles  .


[2013 NORC announcement of appointment of Patricia Ruggles]

Leading Poverty Economist Patricia Ruggles Joins NORC at the University of Chicago as a Senior Fellow in the Economics, Labor, and Population Studies Department

6/12/2013, Bethesda, MD.

– Patricia Ruggles, Ph.D., a long-time advocate for better poverty measurement and other important economic and social indicators, has been named a Senior Fellow at NORC at the University of Chicago. Ruggles has worked at the highest levels in both government and higher education. She has also written books and journal articles on poverty and on improving the quality of the economic and social statistics used for research and policy analysis. She has testified frequently before Congress on these issues, and was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in recognition of her work on improving economic and social measurement.

“NORC at the University of Chicago has a strong track record in providing high-quality data and analysis on issues of social importance, and I look forward to being able to contribute to those efforts,” said Ruggles. “I will continue to work on issues relating to poverty, and will also conduct research on the accuracy and appropriateness of measures used to compute cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security and other programs. I believe that good data, accurate and appropriate statistical measures, and effective, high-quality dissemination of data and research findings are all crucial to good policy decisions.”

“Patricia Ruggles’ deep expertise studying poverty and improving the methods leading researchers employ to understand this problem is invaluable to our organization and her field,” said Dan Gaylin, Executive Vice President, Research Programs at NORC. “NORC is fortunate to have her join our staff.”

Ruggles has held two National Science Foundation (NSF)/American Statistical Association fellowships at the Bureau of the Census, both focused on improving data quality and usability. The analyses of poverty-related issues that came out of her first NSF fellowship contributed to her book, Drawing the Line, which analyzed the impacts of alternative poverty measures. Ruggles’ second NSF fellowship at the U.S. Census Bureau focused on improving welfare program data in the Survey of Income and Program Participation, and led to her well-known work with economist Rebecca Blank on the dynamics of welfare participation.

“We are excited to add an economist of Patricia Ruggles’ experience and expertise to our department,” said Chet Bowie, Senior Vice President and Director of the Economics, Labor, and Population studies department at NORC. “Here at NORC, she will continue her work on improving the quality of the data and measures policymakers use to make critical decisions on social policy.”

From 1996 to 2001, Ruggles was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy and the Chief Economist for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In that role she was responsible for an annual budget of about $20 million to oversee research on issues relating to income, poverty, and human services programs. Both before and after her employment at HHS, Ruggles served on the staff of the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, from which she retired as Staff Director in 2003. She was also a visiting professor at Georgetown University in 2003-2004.

Source:  NORC press release.

Image Source:  Richard and Nancy Ruggles’ Tourist Card for Brazil dated 30 December 1962.

Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *