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Gerald Friedman, PhD

Director, The Hopbrook Institute

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Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Gerald Friedman was born in New York City in 1955 to parents who believed that anyone who said they lived elsewhere was “only kidding.” (He still buys food mail-order from Zebars.) After graduation from Columbia College in 1977 he worked on the research staff of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. He moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts to be closer to Steve’s Ice Cream (and Fenway Park) and to attend graduate school at Harvard where he earned a Ph.D. in economics. In addition to his 1998 book, State-Making and Labor Movements. The United States and France, 1876-1914, Professor Friedman is the author of numerous articles on topics in the labor history of the United States and Europe, as well as the evolution of economic thought, labor economics, economic theory, and the history of slavery in the Americas, and has edited the Economic Crisis Reader. His teaching and research interests focus on economic history, labor history, labor economics, and the history of economic thought. His most recent book, Reigniting the Labor Movement: Restoring means to ends in a democratic labor movement (2008) assesses the decline of the labor movement in advanced capitalist democracies. He is currently working on an intellectual biography of Richard Ely, an early American economist, as part of a larger study of the decline of liberalism in the United States. He has been a regular correspondent on the economics to television and other media outlets and a consultant to labor unions and to the legislature of the state of Vermont and to campaigns for single-payer health insurance in Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Oregon, New York, Washington, and Ohio, and to Physicians for a National Health Plan.

Professor Friedman lives in Amherst with his wife and his dog, Corduroy. He also has  two wonderful daughters he wishes would visit more. 



Phone: (413) 253 9804 

Research Interests:

  • Economic History

  • Labor Economics

  • Healthcare Economics

  • Political Economy


  • PhD, Economics, Harvard University

  • BA, Economics, History, Columbia University


Economist Gerald Friedman, in an astute comparative study of the evolution of labor movements in the United States and France in the period from 1876 to 1914, illuminates not only the distinctive turns to syndicalism in France and craft unionism in the United States, but also the unique impact each form of unionization had on the shaping of the French and the U.S. states. He analyzes an enormous amount of data--extending estimates of union membership back to 1884 for France and 1880 for the United States--to present a lucid picture of the growth and outcome of both movements.

The historic weakness of radical political movements in the United States has perplexed scholars of American labor for over a century. Friedman reevaluates the problem of American "exceptionalism" through his examination of the labor movement, exploring the constraints placed on radicalism by employers and state officials. He shows that a one-sided approach focused exclusively on the role of the working class has rendered labor history static: historical change is something that also happens to workers when circumstances change for workers. Friedman's perspective brings new dynamism to labor history by incorporating the impact of other social actors and the conflicts between them.

A century of union growth ended in the 1980s. Since then, declining union membership has undermined the Labor Movement’s achievements throughout the advanced capitalist world. As unions have lost membership, declining economic clout and political leverage has left them as weak props upholding wages and programs for social justice. Since the earliest days of the labor movement, activists have debated the appropriate strategy, the mix of revolutionary and reformist goals and the proper relationship between labor unions and broader social and political movements. So long as the labor movement was growing, moving from gain to gain, debates over strategy could remain abstract, safely confined to academic quarters. Decline and impending failure, however, have now made these urgent debates.


Written in a readable style, this book uses information from sixteen countries including the UK, US, Germany and France to chart the fortunes of the labor movement over recent years. The author, based at one of the top centres for heterodox economics, examines the current debates over strategy and suggests ways of reigniting its fortunes.

The mainstream pundits tell us that no one anticipated the massive economic shocks of the past few years. The Economic Crisis Reader debunks that myth and many other misdiagnoses of the current crisis. With more than 60 well-researched, clearly written articles, this lively reader explains the causes, consequences, and possible solutions to the ongoing economic crisis. Chapters focus on the housing boom and bust, the financial meltdown, Fed policy, fiscal stimulus, the impact on workers, global dimensions, and more. The updated second edition includes the latest news and analysis, including thought-provoking ideas for reforming our economic system to prevent similar crises in the future.

Updated 2nd edition undergraduate microeconomics textbook. 

The thoroughly updated and revised 23rd edition of Real World Micro contains new articles addressing the latest real-world issues and controversies.

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