A graduate fellowship fund in memory of Professor Larry A. Sjaastad has been created in the Department of Economics through a generous gift.
Sjaastad was professor emeritus of economics and a leading expert on trade in Latin America, died on May 2, 2012, at the age of 77. He made fundamental contributions to economics across a wide spectrum of topics including public finance, international economics and exchange rate theory.
Among many accomplishments, Sjaastad helped organize the Latin American Workshops at the University of Chicago. As a young scholar he developed an interest in Latin America when he directed a training program started in 1962 for Argentinian students in economics that was organized at the Universidad National de Cuyo as a joint program with professors from the University of Chicago. It was the first such program established through President John F. Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress, which was intended to improve relations with Latin America.
He also was a visiting professor at universities in Chile, Colombia, Singapore, Western Australia and Brazil.
The Larry A. Sjaastad Economics Graduate Fellowship Fund will provide endowed support to students in economics with an interest in Argentinian, Latin American, and South American economies.
Sjaastad was born on a farm near Tagus, N.D. and enrolled in the North Dakota Agricultural College to study electrical engineering. He received a scholarship to attend UChicago, where he developed a passion for analytical, applied economics.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in 1957, he continued as a graduate student in economics and received a PhD from UChicago in 1961. His doctoral thesis, a path-breaking extension of human capital theory into the study of migration decisions, was developed into an influential article, “The Costs and Returns of Human Migration,” which remains widely cited today.
The paper, published in the Journal of Political Economy, examined migration patterns in the United States in a comprehensive way. It sought to determine the social and personal costs of migration, in monetary and non-monetary terms, such as moving from to another state because of better living conditions.
The thesis also became legendary for students in UChicago’s Department of Economics.