Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics


Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics

Between 2008 and 2011, the Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics was an academic center established at the University of Chicago as a collaborative, cross-disciplinary site for research in economics. The Institute aimed to support research applying the tools of economic analysis to real-world issues. The institute was named in honor of former Chicago economics professor, Milton Friedman. During its three years of existence, it was an object of intense controversy at the university, as many faculty objected both to its objectives as originally framed and to the naming of an institute after a polarizing figure like Friedman. In June 2011, MFIRE was folded into the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory to form the new Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics.[1]

The Institute hosted visiting scholars working in all subfields of economics, business, law, and related fields such as public policy and medicine. It hosted workshops, seminars, and lectures on fundamental questions across these fields. The Institute also supported advanced professional training for post-doctoral students, as well as expanded opportunities for University of Chicago graduate students. When announcing the creation of the institute in 2008, University President Robert J. Zimmer said its goal was to create "a primary intellectual destination for economics by creating a robust forum for engagement of our faculty and students with scholars and policymakers from around the world.”[2] The university had initially planned to invest $200 million in the institute, with half of that in the form of an operating endowment; though the majority of funds were to be raised through donations.

The announcement of the institute drew a response from more than 170 of the faculty at the university, who argued that to found such an institute would constitute "a symbolic endorsement of his views by the University" and that the proposal reflected "a very narrow research scope even within the field of economics, not to speak of the complete disregard for other disciplines involve in the study of 'economy and society'".[3]

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