In Memoriam: Peter Gottschalk, 1942–2021

March 29, 2021

The Russell Sage Foundation is saddened to announce the passing of eminent labor economist Peter Gottschalk on March 25, 2021. Peter was among the first scholars to study the increasing inequality in wages and incomes in the United States. His research also focused on welfare dependency, earnings instability, job mobility, and policies to increase employment and earnings of the disadvantaged.

Gottschalk was Professor of Economics at Boston College from 1987 until his retirement from teaching (but not from research) in 2010. He also taught at Williams College, University of California, Santa Cruz, Mount Holyoke College, and Bowdoin College. He was a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Bonn, Germany; a Research Associate at the Center for Retirement Research Boston College; and a Research Affiliate at both the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the National Poverty Center (NPC) at the University of Michigan. For many years, he was a co-organizer or participant in the IRP Summer Research Workshop on low-income populations. Gottschalk was also a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He received his B.A. and M.A. from George Washington University and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Gottschalk had longstanding ties to the Russell Sage Foundation, which first began to provide support for his research in the late 1980s. He was an RSF Visiting Scholar in 1996-97, and he was the recipient of numerous research grants from the foundation focused on the effects of rising inequality in America. He co-authored (with current RSF president Sheldon Danziger) the 1995 book America Unequal (co-published with Harvard University Press). He also co-edited the RSF books Uneven Tides: Rising Inequality in America (1994) and Generating Jobs: How to Increase Demand for Less-Skilled Workers (1998), and he contributed chapters to a number of other RSF edited volumes focused on the U.S. labor market, inequality, and social welfare.

Gottschalk published articles in many leading economic journals, including the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, the Journal of Economic Literature, the Review of Economic Statistics, and the Journal of Human Resources. In addition to his extensive research and his collaborations with many economists, Peter found his greatest pleasure teaching and publishing with his graduate students and mentoring young economists.

He is survived by Barbara, his wife of nearly 56 years, and by his daughter and son-in-law Julie and David Murphy and their children Lauren and Ryan. The foundation extends its deepest sympathy to Peter’s family for their loss.

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