Martin Weitzman, Virtuoso Climate Change Economist, Dies at 77


Colleagues said that Professor Weitzman had been despondent after he did not win the Nobel, and that his mental state worsened in the spring, when, for the first time in his career, a fellow economist pointed out a mistake in a completed but unpublished paper he had circulated.

In a typewritten note that was found after his death, Professor Weitzman said he no longer felt capable of solving the kinds of difficult problems to which he had devoted his career.

He was born Meyer Levinger on April 1, 1942, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to Joseph and Helen (Tobias) Levenger. His mother died when he was 2. His father, after returning from military service in World War II, was apparently unable to care for the child and put him up for adoption. His adoptive parents, Samuel and Fannie (Katzelnick) Weitzman, who were elementary schoolteachers, gave him the name Martin Lawrence Weitzman.

After completing high school in Levittown, N.Y., he attended Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, where he majored in math and physics, graduating in 1963. He earned a master’s in statistics and operations research at Stanford and a doctorate in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He married Jennifer Brown Baverstam, a piano teacher and translator. She survives him, along with their daughter, Rodica Weitzman; his stepchildren, Kristian, Madeleine, Sebastian and Oliver Baverstam; and two grandchildren.

Professor Weitzman taught at Yale, where he began his teaching career in 1967, and M.I.T. before joining the Harvard faculty in 1989. Since 1992, he and Professor Stavis conducted nearly 400 sessions of the Harvard Seminar in Environmental Economics and Policy.

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