Rose Friedman Has Died

The Friedman Foundation announced her death this afternoon.

Rose Friedman was the co-author with her husband of several of the most important books on economics and human liberty ever written, including Free to Choose and Capitalism and Freedom.

Free to Choose became a massive international bestseller when it was released in 1980.  No book did more to popularize Hayek’s picture of the free market as a signal system which uses changing relative prices to communicate knowledge unknowable to any single individual, allowing untold billions to adjust their plans in coordination with each other.

It was often said that Rose was known for being the only person to have won an argument with her husband.  In joint interviews with Milton you’ll often see that on any non-economic topic Rose Friedman usually has the last word.

The story of “how we met” as told by Rose and Milton Friedman in their joint autobiography Two Lucky People can be read  here.

Rose’s brother Aaron Director played a decisive role in finding a publisher for Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, and it was Director who provided Hayek with Milton Friedman’s name as among those who should be invited to the first Mont Pelerin Society meeting of classic liberals in 1947.  Milton Friedman says that his interest in public policy and political philosophy was merely casual before reading Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, joining the faculty of the U. of Chicago in 1946, and then attending the Mont Pelerin Society meetings of 1947.

Hayek later played a key role in Aaron Director’s move to the U. of Chicago Law School, a development nearly as significant as Friedman’s own work in the development of the modern “Chicago School” of economics.

In the 1930s Rose Friedman (then Rose Director) worked as a research assistant to Frank Knight at the U. of Chicago, helping Knight with his sketchy knowledge of the history of capital theory.  Rose had planned to turn her work in this area into a dissertation, having fulfilled all of the other requirements for a Ph.D. in economics.  The dissertation was never completed.  In 1936 Rose moved to Washington, D.C. to work for various government agencies — and to be close to Milton.  It can be hoped that one day Rose’s draft documents on capital theory will find their way into the Hoover archive at Stanford.

Google News has a roundup of news stories on the death of Rose Friedman.  Read blog tributes here.


Brian Doherty on Rose Friedman.

Peter Boettke:

She was a very charming woman and a feisty defender of the free market .. I will be handing out copies of [her] Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose to bright students ..  for years to come — I have a box full of Free to Choose in my office for this very purpose ..

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