Alan Krueger, Former White House Economist for Clinton and Obama, Dies Age 58

The Princeton University economist was known for work on minimum wage policy.

Alan Krueger at an Obama administration news conference.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The Princeton University economist was known for work on minimum wage policy.

Former Obama-era White House economic advisor Alan Krueger has died at age 58, NBC News reported.

Krueger built a reputation as one of the United States’ foremost economists with his detailed, yet accessible, research. His work on topics ranging from the economic impacts of raising the minimum wage to the distribution of wealth within the pop music industry has become some of the most influential in the past 30 years.

Krueger first worked in the White House as the Department of Labor’s chief economist during the Bill Clinton administration. He later rose to become the chair of the President’s council of economic advisors under President Obama.

In addition to his public policy work, Krueger was known for his research in popular economic fields. In particular, his 1993 paper co-written with David Card argued that raising the minimum wage did not lead to a demonstrable decrease in employment — long a key point posed by those arguing against raising the minimum wage.

The study’s groundbreaking methodology involved tracking the economies of two small towns situated near each other. One, in Pennsylvania, had a higher minimum wage than the other, located across the state border in New Jersey. The study’s results helped shape public policy from immediately after its publication, and is still influential in the field through the present day.

In more recent years, Krueger turned the focus of his research onto more popular topics. A 2005 paper of his examined the economics of the pop music industry, concluding that a vast majority of the wealth generated by pop music went to a slim minority of artists.

While working in the Obama administration, Krueger discovered the “Great Gatsby Curve,” a term he coined to describe the link between widespread wealth inequality and systemic lack of economic mobility. The curve is named after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1933 novel The Great Gatsby, which tells the rags-to-riches story of a New York playboy named Jay Gatsby.

Beyond his individual research, Krueger had taught a variety of economics classes at Princeton University since 1987.

The university released a statement Monday confirming Krueger’s passing and reaffirming his impact to the Princeton community.

“A valued member of the Princeton University community for over three decades, Alan will be deeply missed by his students and colleagues.”

Krueger leaves behind a titanic legacy in both the economic and political spheres. While the man himself may be gone, his work continues to thrive throughout the field.