Anita A. Summers, Economist, Dies at 98; Introduced Rigor to Public Coverage

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Anita A. Summers, an economist on the Wharton Faculty of the College of Pennsylvania who injected quantitative rigor into all kinds of public coverage subjects, together with zoning, schooling and tax incentives, died on Sunday at her dwelling in Gladwyne, Pa. She was 98.

Her son Lawrence H. Summers, the economist and former secretary of the Treasury, confirmed the loss of life.

Although she spent a lot of her profession in academia, Mrs. Summers was removed from a hidebound mental. She insisted that public policymaking be strengthened with financial evaluation, and vice versa: that the enterprise and finance world may gain advantage from a larger understanding of policymaking.

That, in reality, was her main job at Wharton, the place she moved in 1979 after spending practically a decade on the Federal Reserve Financial institution of Philadelphia. She was the founding chairwoman of Wharton’s public coverage and administration division, the primary of its sort at a enterprise faculty. (It’s now referred to as the division of enterprise economics and public coverage.)

Each on the Philadelphia Fed and later at Wharton, Mrs. Summers was a number one advocate of public planning on the regional degree, pushing metropolis and state governments to collaborate on financial points that always crossed political boundaries.

By way of the Eighties and ’90s she wrote or co-wrote a sequence of research on the rising postindustrial financial system of southeastern Pennsylvania, work that influenced the way in which policymakers thought of financial change nationally.

She was unsentimental about vanishing industries, and she or he inspired policymakers to focus their energies on new sectors. When the native shipbuilding facility, as soon as a cornerstone of the regional financial system, shut down within the early Nineteen Nineties, she advised The Washington Publish that “the query to ask just isn’t why the Philadelphia shipyard is closing, however why it took so lengthy.”

She had an equal curiosity in zoning legal guidelines and the way they affected financial development, and in schooling coverage; she was among the many earliest advocates of advantage pay for academics, primarily based on pupil check scores. Unions howled, however she had in depth knowledge to make her case.

Economics ran in Mrs. Summers’s household. Her brother, Kenneth J. Arrow, gained the Nobel Memorial Prize in Financial Sciences in 1972, which her brother-in-law Paul A. Samuelson additionally gained, in 1970. Her husband, Robert, taught economics at Penn, and her son Lawrence, after serving as Treasury secretary below President Invoice Clinton, was later president of Harvard.

“Rising up, we most likely spent extra time discussing what authorities ought to do about poverty than at most dinner tables in America,” Lawrence Summers stated.

Anita Arrow was born on Sept. 9, 1925, in Nice Neck, N.Y., on Lengthy Island, and raised in Manhattan. Her dad and mom have been each Romanian Jewish immigrants — her father, Harry, was a banker, and her mom, Lillian (Greenberg) Arrow, was a homemaker.

She graduated with a bachelor’s diploma in economics from Hunter Faculty in 1945 and acquired a grasp’s in the identical topic from the College of Chicago in 1947.

She then spent a number of years in New York working as an economist for Normal Oil. She was among the many first ladies to carry such a place at a significant company, and it was not simple going.

After the hiring supervisor advised her she had the job, she later recalled, he added that, since she was a girl, “We determined we might get the identical brains for much less cash.”

She was assigned high-priority initiatives to finish, however she was barred from delivering them to the chief suites, the place ladies have been forbidden. As an alternative she needed to sit by her telephone, ready for the bosses to name with questions.

“I felt like my mind was being insulted,” she said in a 2022 interview at Wharton.

She ultimately left the job to pursue doctoral research at Columbia College, however left this system to lift her three youngsters. She spent 11 years out of the work drive — a selection that she embraced, and that she lengthy defended.

“I can not think about extra profound pleasure than I acquired in feeding and speaking and studying to our youngsters, to being current for each tear and every stage of growth,” she wrote in The Boston Globe in 2017.

She married Robert Summers in 1953. He died in 2012. Alongside along with her son Lawrence, she is survived by two different sons, Richard and John. She additionally had seven grandchildren, six of whom survive her.

As soon as her youngsters have been at school and her husband had relocated to the College of Pennsylvania, Mrs. Summers took a place instructing economics at Swarthmore Faculty, exterior Philadelphia. She additionally took an lively function in native politics and policymaking, and ultimately turned president of her native chapter of the League of Girls Voters.

In 1971 she moved to the Philadelphia Fed, the place she led its City Economics Group. She additionally served because the chairwoman of the board of Mathematica, a public-policy consulting agency.

Mrs. Summers was proud to be a girl reducing a path by means of a male-dominated area, a path that following generations of ladies have been in a position to stroll — amongst them Betsey Stevenson, a professor of public coverage on the College of Michigan, whose first job was in Mrs. Summers’s division at Wharton.

“It meant rather a lot that it was a division based by Anita Summers,” Dr. Stevenson stated in a telephone interview. “Being a dad or mum, being a partner, it’s a reminder of how issues have modified and the quantity of grit and expertise it took feminine economists to reach that era.”