Influential MIT economist and Williams graduate Lester Thurow dies at 77

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CAMBRIDGE, MASS. >> Lester Thurow, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who addressed the challenges and consequences of a global economy, has died. He was 77.

Thurow died Friday at his Westport home, the university said Tuesday. No cause was given.

After focusing on income distribution early in his career, Thurow became a leading public voice in examining the defining features of globalization, including the competitiveness of national economies at a time of industrial change, and worker welfare.

He advocated for policies that defied political labeling but would help society and business make long-term investments to spur growth.

He told Fortune magazine in 1987 that he just wanted "to make the world better."

Thurow also wrote several best-selling books on economic policy for general audiences, including "Head to Head: The Coming Economic Battle Among Japan, Europe, and America" and "The Future of Capitalism: How Today's Economic Forces Shape Tomorrow's World" and "The Zero-Sum Society."

"Lester Thurow spent his life trying to make society more farsighted and more fair," MIT President L. Rafael Reif said in a statement. "As a member of the faculty, as dean of MIT Sloan, as a successful author, and as an adviser to political giants, he embodied MIT's mission to advance knowledge and educate students in service to the nation and the world."

Thurow earned an undergraduate degree from Williams College, a master's at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and a doctorate from Harvard University.

Thurow started teaching at MIT in 1968 and was dean of the university's Sloan School of Management from 1987 until 1993.

He was born in Livingston, Montana, the son of a Methodist minister and a teacher.

He is survived by his wife, two children, two stepchildren, and seven grandchildren.


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