Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In Memoriam: Hendrik Houthakker

Hendrik Houthakker was known for big things in the field of economics, including being on two presidents' Councils of Economic Advisers. For me, he was a kind person when I showed up after taking the Number 1 bus up to Harvard from MIT in 1973 to ask for advice on my Master's thesis, which was an econometric study of the residential demand for electricity in New England. My MIT advisor, Karen Polenske (no slouch herself in the economics world) had suggested I do so. We only met once, but I remember his gracious manner as he spent a half hour with an unknown student to check out my proposed methodology.

And, you never know where things will lead. Several months later, when I went to interview for my first job, the thesis would come in handy. Henry Lee, the incoming director of the MA Energy Policy Office, had spent a year off getting a master's degree at Harvard at the Kennedy School. He hired me, in part, because my thesis had been on the reading list for a class he took! (Other than that, and in a few footnotes elsewhere, the thesis has fallen in oblivion.)

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