Law School professor pours $25 mil into economics program

By Joy Crane

A senior lecturer at the Law School and his wife have donated $25 million to the Becker Friedman Institute toward the establishment of a interdisciplinary program in the social sciences.

Under the direction of economists Steven Levitt and Kevin Murphy, the new Andrew and Betsy Rosenfield Program in Economics, Public Policy, and Law will aim to increase collaboration among scholars in the economics department, the Law School, the Booth School of Business, the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, and the Law School’s recently formed Institute for Law and Economics.

The program will strengthen the connection between the Law School and the Becker Friedman Institute, according to a press release, particularly to support empirical economic studies using Chicago Price Theory, a research tradition that combines rigorous economic thinking with data-driven analysis.

“The Becker Friedman Institute was founded as a dynamic meeting place for researchers with diverse perspectives and research backgrounds,” President Robert J. Zimmer said in a Monday University press release. “With this generous donation from the Rosenfields, the tradition of evidence-based research on fundamental problems in the areas of economics, law, and policy will find new form and new opportunities.”

Andrew Rosenfield (J.D. ’78), who has taught at the law school for over 25 years, lauded the University’s interdisciplinary approach to economics.

“One of Chicago’s enduring strengths is the facilitation of collaboration across disciplinary boundaries, which is essential to make this sort of work successful and practicable,” he said in the press release.

Levitt, the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and one of the directors of the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory, praised the Rosenfields’ donation for its potential to further deepen Chicago Price Theory.

“The Rosenfield gift will be critical to not only preserving but strengthening Chicago’s leadership role in price theory. Our mission is not just to produce cutting edge research that is relevant to policy, but to make sure the next generation of economists is exposed to the power of these tools,” Levitt said in the release.

The gift also coincides with the Law School’s recent initiative to further integrate law and economics. Resources from the donation will support programs such as the recently announced Law and Economics 2.0 Initiative, which aims to introduce the two social sciences as a combined field to foreign governments.