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Honor A Colleague: George S. Tolley

2018 Honor A Colleague Recipient

George S. Tolley, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Economics,

University of Chicago

George S. Tolley is an exponent of a Chicago tradition of confidence in the power of economics to provide insights into behavior and useful prescriptions for public policy. His influence on environmental policy has been mostly as a university professor, advisor, and producer of scholarly and applied research. A notable exception was his tour of duty as deputy assistant secretary and director of the Office of Tax Analysis at the U.S. Treasury for 19741975. More typical was his service on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Automotive Pollution, the Energy Engineering Board at the National Research Council, and various advisory boards and commissions for Illinois and Chicago, and consultant to the Agency for International Development and World Bank. 

With his rare combination of talent for explaining economic insights into pros and cons of different policy options and ability to have noneconomists embrace his economic ideas as their own, he has been able to influence environmental policy for the better. Major funding from the National Science Foundation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for grants dealing with urban pollution, amenities, visibility, and health effects of air pollution provided him the means to carry out ambitious research programs that facilitated access to decision makers. He shared what he learned through publication of many peer-reviewed journals articles and more than 20 books. Five books dealt with environmental economics and policy and one other has been particularly influential. Valuing Health for Policy: An Economic Approach has been read and cited by both environmental and health economics since its publication in 1994. This book is one of only 10 references listed in the guide to implementing Executive Order 12866 Economic Analysis of Federal Regulation that governs benefitcost analysis of major environmental regulations.

George Tolley earned his B.A. from American University in 1947 and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 1955. He has held regular and visiting faculty positions at North Carolina State University, Purdue University, University of CaliforniaBerkeley, and the University of Chicago where he has been most of his career and at which he is professor emeritus. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is the honorary editor of the journal Resource and Energy Economics, which he founded and edited from 1978 to 1998. He received an honorary doctor of sciences degree from North Carolina State in 2006. He has been a practicing economist for more than 60 years and is still responding to the demand for his services.

Individuals Who Contributed to Honoring George S. Tolley

  • Tim Bartik
  • Glenn Blomquist
  • Richard V. Burkhauser
  • Maureen Cropper
  • Raymond R.(Rick) Geddes
  • Phil Graves
  • Donald Haurin
  • John Hoehn
  • Oded Izraeli
  • Charles Kahn
  • Donald Kenkel
  • Peter Linneman
  • Tracy Miller
  • Shannon Brett Mudd
  • James Oehmke
  • Bob Ohsfeldt
  • V. Kerry Smith
  • W. Kip Viscusi

If you would like to make a contribution to Honor a Colleague, please go to:

The Society would like to express our gratitude towards Don Kenkel and Glenn Blomquist for coordinating and implementing this campaign in George's honor.