Nathan, Robert Roy

views updated


NATHAN, ROBERT ROY (1908–2001), U.S. economist. Born in Dayton, Ohio, Nathan joined the Department of Commerce in 1933 and became prominent in President Roosevelt's reconstruction programs. During World War ii he was deputy director of the War Production Board and the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion. After the war, in 1946, he opened his own consulting firm, Robert R. Nathan Associates, which was active in counseling postwar rehabilitation work and economic development in many countries, such as France, Burma, Indonesia, Korea, Afghanistan, Ghana, Colombia, and El Salvador. During the late 1940s and the early 1950s he devoted much of his time and effort to guiding various Israeli government authorities in their first official contacts with the United States government. His main professional interest was developmental economics; his vision was of a free-enterprise democratic system that benefited all of society. To that end, his economic consulting firm advised business, industry, labor unions; and state, local, national, and foreign governments, applying tested economic principles. The firm became a leader in developing master plans for economic growth, sometimes spending decades in a country. A natural humanitarian, Nathan championed social causes, including civil rights, welfare legislation, and minimum wage, and he was the director of a foundation that contributed to low-income housing and equal opportunity programs. By the time Nathan turned the presidency of his company over to John Beyer in 1978, the firm had provided economic consulting services in most sectors of the U.S. economy.

Nathan Associates Inc. established the Robert R. Nathan Memorial Foundation, which endows a fellowship in applied economics at Nathan's alma mater, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Nathan's major publications include Mobilizing for Abundance (1944) and PalestineProblem and Promise (with O. Gass and D. Craemer, 1946).

[Joachim O. Ronall /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]