Dr. Cass, Economics

Dr. David Cass, Paul F. and E. Warren Shafer Miller Professor of Economics, died April 15, 2008, at age 71.

Before coming to Penn, Dr. Cass was a member of the economics department and the Cowles Foundation at Yale University from 1965 to 1970, and also served on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University from 1970 to 1974. He had been at Penn since 1974, and was named the Paul F. and E. Warren Shafer Miller Professor of Economics in 1988. He also was a visiting scholar at numerous organizations and universities in Europe, including the University of Geneva where he received an honorary doctorate in economic science in 1994.

He made singular contributions to economic theory, including the introduction of the “Cass-Koopmans” growth model, and the discovery of the “Cass” criterion for Pareto efficiency in overlapping generations models. With Karl Shell, he discovered the importance of extrinsic uncertainty (sunspots) in economic dynamics. His work with many coauthors on incomplete financial markets was extremely influential.

Dr. Cass received many honors for his accomplishments. Most significantly, he was named a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association in 1999 and elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003.

Dr. Cass served as editor for numerous economic journals. At the time of his death, he was serving as the director of CARESS (Center for Analytic Research in Economics and the Social Sciences). He had spent much of the spring organizing the 4th Annual CARESS-Cowles Conference on Equilibrium Theory and Its Applications, which was held at Penn this past weekend. “After much soul searching, the remaining organizers decided that Dave would have wanted to the conference to go on,” said Dr. George J. Mailath, chair of the economics department.

Dr. Cass authored the book, The Hamiltonian Approach to Economic Dynamics along with publishing numerous articles.

Dr. Cass earned an AB in economics from the University of Oregon in 1958 and a PhD in economics from Stanford University in 1965.

Dr. Cass is survived by his children, Lisa and Stephen.

The economics department is establishing a fund in memory of Dr. Cass to benefit graduate education. There will be an event next fall to celebrate his contributions and accomplishments. Details will be posted on his department’s webpage and published in Almanac, when arrangements have been made.