Former Hoover fellow and Nobel laureate Milton Friedman.

Milton Friedman


Click here to see the Hoover project showcasing the works of Milton and Rose Friedman.

Milton Friedman, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize for economic science, was a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution from 1977 to 2006. He passed away on Nov. 16, 2006. (Link to obituary.) He was also the Paul Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Chicago, where he taught from 1946 to 1976, and a member of the research staff of the National Bureau of Economic Research from 1937 to 1981.

Friedman was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988 and received the National Medal of Science the same year.

He was widely regarded as the leader of the Chicago School of monetary economics, which stresses the importance of the quantity of money as an instrument of government policy and as a determinant of business cycles and inflation.

In addition to his scientific work, Friedman also wrote extensively on public policy, always with a primary emphasis on the preservation and extension of individual freedom. His most important books in this field are (with Rose D. Friedman) Capitalism and Freedom (University of Chicago Press, 1962); Bright Promises, Dismal Performance (Thomas Horton and Daughters, 1983), which consists mostly of reprints of columns he wrote for Newsweek from 1966 to 1983; (with Rose D. Friedman) Free to Choose (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980), which complements a ten-part television series of the same name shown over the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) network in early 1980; and (with Rose D. Friedman) Tyranny of the Status Quo (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), which complements a three-part television series of the same name, shown over PBS in early 1984.

He was a member of the President's Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force and the President's Commission on White House Fellows. He was a member of President Ronald Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board (a group of experts from outside the government named in 1981 by President Reagan).

Friedman was also active in public affairs, serving as an informal economic adviser to Senator Barry Goldwater in his unsuccessful campaign for the presidency in 1964, to Richard Nixon in his successful 1968 campaign, to President Nixon subsequently, and to Ronald Reagan in his 1980 campaign.

He has published many books and articles, most notably A Theory of the Consumption Function, The Optimum Quantity of Money and Other Essays, and (with A. J. Schwartz) A Monetary History of the United States, Monetary Statistics of the United States, and Monetary Trends in the United States and the United Kingdom.

He was a past president of the American Economic Association, the Western Economic Association, and the Mont Pelerin Society and was a member of the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Sciences.

He was awarded honorary degrees by universities in the United States, Japan, Israel, and Guatemala, as well as the Grand Cordon of the First Class Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Japanese government in 1986.

Friedman received a B.A. in 1932 from Rutgers University, an M.A. in 1933 from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in 1946 from Columbia University.

Two Lucky People, his and Rose D. Friedman's memoirs, was published in 1998 by the University of Chicago Press.

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Recent Commentary

Illustration by Karen Stolper

If Only the United States Were as Free as Hong Kong

by Milton Friedmanvia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 30, 1998

Hong Kong may be back in the hands of mainland China, but direct government spending in Hong Kong remains less than 15 percent of national income--versus some 40 or 50 percent here in the United States. Hoover fellow and Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman considers these facts worth pondering.

Rose and Milton Friedman

The Case for Free Trade

by Milton Friedman, Rose D. Friedmanvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, October 30, 1997

In international trade, Hoover fellow Charles Wolf Jr. argues above, deficits don't much matter. Here Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman discuss what does: freedom. A ringing statement of logic and principle.

How Much Growth Can America Expect?

by Milton Friedmanvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, January 30, 1997

President Clinton claims that the current economic growth rate of about 2.5 percent is pretty darned good. Not so fast, says Nobel Prize-winner and Hoover fellow Milton Friedman. The nation's economic history suggests that we should be doing much, much better.

The Fed and the Natural Rate

by Milton Friedmanvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, January 30, 1997

Argue that the economy should be growing more briskly, and you have Nobel Prize-winner and Hoover fellow Milton Friedman's sympathy. Argue that the Federal Reserve Bank should be doing something about it, and you lose Friedman's sympathy. The man who coined the term explains why the natural rate of unemployment is no argument for loose money-or, for that matter, tight money, either.

How We Adopted A Soviet-Style Health Care System--and How We Can End It

by Milton Friedmanvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, April 30, 1996

Health care delivery in the United States has become so depersonalized as to be virtually Soviet. Don't believe it? Nobel Prize–winner and Hoover fellow Milton Friedman proves the point by quoting Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a Hoover honorary fellow. The way to end depersonalized care? Friedman argues for medical savings accounts.

Rose and Milton Friedman: Our Early Years

by Milton Friedman, Rose D. Friedman, Peter M. Robinsonvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, April 30, 1996

"If you don't want to be forgotten," Benjamin Franklin wrote in Poor Richard's Almanac, "do something worth the writing, or write something worth the reading." Rose and Milton Friedman decided to do both, leading extraordinary lives, then composing their memoirs, on which they are now working. Here they pause from the hard labor of writing to talk with Hoover fellow Peter Robinson about their early years.

A 1962 Flat-Tax Proposal Revisited

by Milton Friedmanvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 1996

Most of the flat-tax plans being bruited about in Washington today derive from the proposal that Hoover fellows Robert E. Hall and Alvin Rabushka made over a decade ago. As it happens, Hoover fellow Milton Friedman wrote about a flat tax more than three decades ago. Here Friedman presents that original plan.

How to Fix Social Security

by Milton Friedmanvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 1996

There has been a great deal of interest lately in privatizing Social Security--presidential candidate Steve Forbes even went so far as to make Social Security privatization one of the planks of his platform. But how, exactly, can privatization be accomplished? In this essay, which he first published in 1972, Hoover fellow Milton Friedman tells how to get from here to there.

Why the Flat Tax Isn't Nuts

by Robert J. Barro, Milton Friedman, Gary S. Beckervia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 1996

When presidential candidate Steve Forbes championed a flat tax virtually identical to the one first proposed by Hoover fellows Robert E. Hall and Alvin Rabushka, critics hooted, calling the flat tax a nutty idea. The Wall Street Journal asked a group of renowned economists, including Hoover fellows Robert J. Barro, Gary S. Becker, and Milton Friedman, to comment.

Why Government is the Problem, by Friedman, Milton, 1993.

by Milton Friedmanvia Analysis
Monday, February 1, 1993

Friedman discusses a government system that is no longer controlled by “we, the people.” Instead of Lincoln's government “of the people, by the people, and for the people," we now have a government” of the people, by the bureaucrats, for the bureaucrats," including the elected representatives who have become bureaucrats.