© The Nobel Foundation
Franco Modigliani

American Jewish Recipients of the Nobel Prize

Franco Modigliani: Nobel Prize
in Economics Recipient-1985

by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Franco Modigliani was an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics, in 1985, for his pioneering analyses of saving and financial markets.

He was born on June 18, 1918, in Rome, Italy. He was the son of a pediatrician, Enrico Modigliani and his mother, Olga Flaschel, was a volunteer social worker. His father died when he was thirteen years old and he felt that his world had collapsed. After going to a number of schools, Franco Modigliani came back to himself.

He entered the University of Rome when he was seventeen years old. In his second year at the University, he entered a national competition in economics. His paper won the first place prize.

He was an antifascist and met his future wife, Serena Calabi, who with her father were also antifascists. In 1938, Italy passed the racial laws and they left for Paris and were married in 1939. He returned to the University of Rome to receive his Doctor of Juris degree. Fearing that Europe would soon be in turmoil and war, they immigrated to the United States in August 1939.

Modigliani received a tuition free fellowship by the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science of the New School for Social Research. He received D. Soc. Sci. from the New School for Social Research, 1944. While he was getting this degree, he was an instructor at Columbia University and Bard College, 1942-1944.

In 1946, he became a naturalized citizen. He joined the faculty of the University of Illinois, 1948-52. Modigliani then became a professor at the Graduate School of the Industrial Administration of the Carnegie Mellon University, 1952-1962. He then became a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1962-1988.

Franco Modigliani was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also served as president of the Econometric Society, American Economic Association and the American Finance Association. He was a consultant to the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve System and a number of European banks.

He and his wife, Serena, had two sons: Andre, a professor of sociology at the University of Michigan and Sergio, an architect of Brookline, Mass. Franco Modigliani died on September 25, 2003, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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