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With great sadness we announce the death of Kenneth L. Sokoloff. Ken, a professor in the Economics Department, was a member of our steering commitee. He was the founder of the economic history group at UCLA and creator of the Von Gremp Workshop.

We will miss him terribly. Please see the attached obituary for information about his career and funeral arrangements.

Memorial Service:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Chapel at Westwood Village Memorial Park
1218 Glendon Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Kenneth L. Sokoloff

Ken Sokoloff, age 54, Professor of Economics at the University of California, Los Angeles passed away on May 21, 2007. The cause was cancer.

Sokoloff was a renowned economic historian whose work had important implications for economic development. His research on the United States focused on the history of productivity growth and technological change. One of his principal findings was the amazing degree to which the well-designed patent system of the early nineteenth century U.S. inspired common people to be active inventors and patent holders. His work on the industrial development of follower economies such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Mexico, punctured the notion that government policy played a major role in spurring productivity growth. In recent years, Sokoloff increasingly focused on the comparative economic history of Latin America and the United States. In a series of highly influential articles he, along with various co-authors, showed how factors such as climate and soils played a fundamental role in shaping the economic and political institutions adopted by early settlers and how those initial institutions then persisted to the present day. Sokoloff’s articles are standard reading in graduate curricula in economic history, development economics, and political science. Indeed, the ramifications of his work extended well beyond academia, and have shaped the way that economists at multilateral aid organizations, such as the World Bank, think about reforming economic institutions that retard growth.

Sokoloff received the B.A. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1974. He went on to graduate school at Harvard, from which he received the Ph.D. in 1982. He joined the UCLA faculty in 1980. In addition to his appointment at UCLA, Sokoloff held visiting appointments at Oxford University, École des Hautes Études, the California Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. His accomplishments were recognized by being named a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He is survived by his father, Dr. Louis Sokoloff and his sister, Ann, and many colleagues, friends and former students. A memorial service will be held at the Chapel at Westwood Village Memorial Park, 1218 Glendon Ave., at 3:00 on Wednesday, May 23. Donations in his memory may be made to the Kenneth L. Sokoloff Memorial Fund (payable to the Economic History Association), c/o Department of Economics, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA 95053-0385, to provide Sokoloff fellowships for the support of young scholars.


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