Shaw Bell, Internationally Renowned Economist and Wellesley
College Professor, Dies at 85
May 22, 2006
Mass. -- Carolyn Shaw
Bell, long-time Wellesley College professor of economics
and a former columnist for The Boston Globe, died
May 13 at her home in Arlington, Virginia. She had lived
in Dover and Lexington,
Mass., for many years before moving to Virginia in late
Bell was an internationally known economist whose research focused
on human capital, income distribution and the quality of economic
data. A consummate teacher, she is credited by many with building
Wellesley's economics department to its position as one of the
strongest undergraduate economics departments in the country. She
was a tireless promoter of women's achievements in general and
in economics, in particular.
She had the
ability to convey economic principles and analysis to a general
audience as evidenced by her columns in The Boston
Globe, which she wrote regularly from 1997 until 2000. She
also appeared frequently as an economics commentator on WGBH-TV
nightly news for several years and wrote opinion pieces that were
published by The
Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times.
In a 1995
New York Times article about Wellesley alumnae's leadership roles
in the business
world, several alumnae cited Bell's influence
in their career development. "She was a fierce promoter of
Wellesley economics graduates," said Ellen Marram, a 1968
graduate and then president of Seagram Beverage Group. "She
used to tell us that we should brag, that we should let people
know what we can do."
Bell was one
of the founders of the American Economic Association's Committee
the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP)
and served as its first chair. In 1998, the CSWEP established the
Carolyn Shaw Bell Award, which is given annually "to an individual
who has furthered the status of women in the economics profession,
through example, achievements, increasing our understanding of
how women can advance the economics profession, or mentoring others." Bell
wrote in the fall 1997 CSWEP newsletter, "We need every day
to herald some woman's achievements, to tout a woman's book or
painting or scholarly article, to brag about a promotion or prize
and to show admiration for the efforts and influence of women in
their professional and technical and social and human endeavors
of all kinds."
Bell received her undergraduate degree in 1941 from Mount Holyoke
College. Upon graduation she worked for the Office of Price Administration
in San Francisco, which was led by John Kenneth Galbraith. The
two economists maintained a lasting friendship. She then went to
London University where she earned her doctorate in economics in
1949. She joined the Wellesley faculty in 1950, working again with
Galbraith in a research position at Harvard University. Bell was
named the Katharine Coman Professor of Economics in 1964, a chair
she held until her retirement in 1989.
Bell was the
author of two books, Consumer Choice in the
American Economy (1967) and The Economics of the Ghetto (1970),
and was co-author of several more. She served on the editorial
boards of numerous publications, including the Journal of Economic
Education, the Journal of Economic Issues and the Journal
of Economic Literature.
Bell was very hard of hearing for much of her life and was
an active advocate for the use of hearing dogs, which provide
to deaf and hard of hearing individuals. She traveled extensively
and was always accompanied by her own hearing dog, Robin.
Bell was born
in Framingham, Mass. Her husband Nelson Sibly Bell died in 1991.
She is survived by her daughter, Tova Maria Solo,
of Arlington, Virginia, and one grandson. A memorial service at
Wellesley College is planned for the fall.