Harris, Seymour Edwin, 1897-1974Variant names
Epithet: Professor of Harvard University, economist
British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001123.0x00033e
Seymour Edwin Harris (Sept. 8, 1897 - Oct. 27, 1974), economist, teacher, author, and public servant, was born in New York City, the son of Augusta Kulick and Henry Harris. He received his B.A. from Harvard in 1920 and his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1926. His doctoral dissertation was awarded the David A. Wells Prize in 1927. Harris began his teaching career at Princeton as an instructor in 1920. He left that post in 1922 to return to Harvard as an instructor and to pursue graduate work in economics. Upon receipt of his doctorate, Harvard promoted him to lecturer (1927); he became assistant professor in 1933, associate professor with tenure (belatedly) in 1936, and full professor in 1945. Harris was appointed Lucius N. Littauer professor of political economy on July 1, 1957, a post he held until 1963. Between 1955 and 1959, he chaired Harvard''s economics department. When he retired from Harvard in 1963, he became chair of the economics department at the University of California, San Diego. In the late 1930''s along with Alvin Hansen, Paul Samuelson, and John Kenneth Galbraith, Harris popularized Keynesian theory in a nation philosophically distrustful of the federal government and committed to individualism and private enterprise. He was a prolific author, writing more than fifty books in his career. Not all his works were well received. For instance, one reviewer, professor Robert Lekachman, charged that in Harris''s Economics of the Kennedy Years and a Look Ahead (1964), the exposition was unclear, the statistics undigested, and the text ill-organized, but laid these "disfiguring marks" to "hasty composition." That this explanation was probably correct and that the faults were not endemic may be inferred from the success of Harris''s other books. Harris also served as editor of the Review of Economics and Statistics (1943-1964) and as associate editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics (1947-1974), and was editor of the volumes Postwar Economic Problems (1943), Saving American Capitalism (1948), Schumpeter, Social Scientist (1951), and The Dollar in Crisis (1961). Harris''s books on health--The Economics of American Medicine (1964) and The Economics of Health Care (1975)--and on education--How Shall We Pay for Education? (1948), The Market for College Graduates (1949), More Resources for Education (1961), Higher Education (1962), Economic Aspects of Higher Education (1964), and Challenge and Change in American Education (1965)--were ahead of their time. In the mid-1990''s, for example, the United States was the only large industrial nation without a national health plan, and its public educational system was underfinanced and under critical attack for teaching mathematics and science poorly and for trying to do too much, as in sex education. Harris criticized physicians for their high earnings, claiming they were more interested in income and status than in public service. He did note, however, that their higher incomes reflected longer working hours (sixty hours per week was not uncommon) and the shifting of travel costs to consumers (most doctors had given up house calls by the 1960''s). At the same time, he claimed that hospital services and drugs were overpriced; hospital daily charges had risen at two and a half times the rate of income growth over the period 1948-1963, with most gains going to salaries and wages of professional staffs. To fund future medical costs he favored private insurance plans, cautioning that cost containment was necessary to protect consumers. In education Harris recommended more realistic financing by the federal and state governments to keep education abreast of inflationary price changes. Further, he suggested that public colleges charge tuition with heavy subvention for students from low-income families through long-term loans (as long as forty years). He wanted to substitute user fees for tax underwriting of public college costs. Harris, however, was not ideologically bound to the private market approach. In an article in a Catholic journal he endorsed the policy of federal aid to private colleges, including those with religious affiliations. On the other hand, he maintained on constitutional and economic grounds that private primary and secondary schools should not receive public aid. Harris''s public service included serving as chief consultant (1961-1967) to Secretary of the Treasury Douglas Dillion, for which he received the Treasury Department''s highest honor, the Alexander Hamilton Award. Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, and presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy sought his advice. (Prior to his death, Kennedy had intended to appoint him to the Federal Reserve Board; Johnson did not appoint him to the vacancy, however, which was a major disappointment.) In the 1950''s, when Japanese exports to the United States began to grow, Harris chaired the New England Governors'' Textile Committee, a group that requested legislative help to stem the flood of Japanese textiles to the United States.
From the description of Harris, Seymour Edwin, 1897-1974 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10677980
Harris was an attorney in New York City.
From the description of Correspondence to Alma Mahler, 1957. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 155863416
Harris (1897-1974) (Harvard, A.B., 1920; Ph. D., 1926) was Littauer Professor of Political Economy at Harvard.
From the description of Papers of Seymour E. Harris, 1930-1974 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 76973333
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