Professor Mark Perlman

Historian of economic thought


Mark Perlman, economist: born Madison, Wisconsin 23 December 1923; Professor of Economics, University of Pittsburgh 1963-93 (Emeritus); Editor, Journal of Economic Literature 1969-81; Co-Editor, Journal of Evolutionary Economics 1991-96; married 1953 Naomi Waxman (one daughter); died Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 3 May 2006.

Mark Perlman was an influential historian of economic thought, the co-author with Charles McCann Jnr of The Pillars of Economic Understanding - the first volume published under the subtitle "Ideas and Traditions" (1998), the second as "Factors and Markets" (2000). He was also the founding editor of the Journal of Economic Literature, a leader in its genre, and created a journal for the US Department of State, Portfolio on International Economic Perspectives, as well as a journal for the Schumpeter Society, the Journal of Evolutionary Economics.

His first speciality had been labour economics. His doctoral dissertation on labour arbitration in Australia, published as Judges in Industry (1954), is still much cited, second only in importance to A New Province for Law and Order (1922), the articles of Henry Bournes Higgins, the judge who drafted the early law. Perlman's later work on the subject included Labor Union Theories in America: background and development (1958) and The Machinists: a new study in American trade Unionism (1961).

Mark Perlman was born in 1923 in Madison, Wisconsin, the son of Selig Perlman, a Polish émigré and himself a distinguished labour historian at the University of Wisconsin. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1947, Mark took his PhD at Columbia University in 1950. He first taught at Cornell and Johns Hopkins universities before being appointed to a permanent professorship at the University of Pittsburgh in 1963, a post that he occupied for three decades.

It was fascinating to listen to him discourse about his upbringing in a highly intellectual household, of having met, as a young boy, Albert Einstein and other academic luminaries. Most of the great economists and many of the leading historians and philosophers of the 20th century were known to him. He brought this breadth of outlook to his teaching, preferring to provide undergraduates with broad-based instruction in the liberal arts before proceeding to the discipline of economics. His autobiographical essay, "What Makes My Mind Tick", in his selected essays, The Character of Economic Thought, Economic Characters, and Economic Institutions (1996), is particularly stimulating.

Perlman was a great anglophile, who often talked of his rewarding period as an official faculty visitor and visiting fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge, in 1976-77. He and his wife Naomi delighted to entertain their English friends and colleagues at the Athenaeum Club in London during their frequent visits to the UK. For many years Perlman was a much-appreciated co-editor of the Cambridge University Surveys of Economic Literature (1977-96) and the Cambridge Surveys in Economic Politics and Institutions (1991-95).

His discovery of the English economist G.L.S. Shackle was almost serendipitous, and he did his bit to expand Shackle's influence by publishing papers by and on him and substantial reviews of his books in the Journal of Economic Literature. In May 2004 he delivered the G.L.S. Shackle Centenary Lecture, "Memorialising George L.S. Shackle: a centennial tribute", at St Edmund's College, Cambridge.

In 2002 Perlman was himself memorialised with a Festschrift, Editing Economics, edited by Hank Lim, Ungsuh K. Park and G.C. Harcourt, to which 18 scholars contributed.

Mark Perlman was a deeply religious man and a prominent member of the Jewish community in his home town. The core of his thinking was a religious conviction that it is the tribe (the people), not the individual, that comes before the Almighty.

Stephen Frowen

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Data Administrator

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of this mu...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - £40,000 - £70,000 OTE

£40000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: (Senior) IT Business Analyst - London - European projects

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable global business is l...

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Project Manager

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness