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Halbert L. White, University of California, San Diego, Professor and Founder of Bates White Economic Consulting, dies at age 61

April 2, 2012

Halbert L. White, Chancellor’s Associates Distinguished Professor of Economics in the Division of Social Sciences at the University of California, San Diego, and Founder, Bates White Economic Consulting, died on March 31, 2012, after a 4-year battle with cancer. He was 61.

Dr. White was one of the world’s leading economists, recognized for setting new research standards and influencing a broad range of economic disciplines. He had particular expertise in econometrics and pioneered innovative approaches to econometric methods, statistics, and modeling. Dr. White was widely recognized to be a contender for a Nobel Prize in Economics as identified by Thomson Reuters in the 2011 prediction of Nobel laureates. Dr. White was also a passionate and accomplished trumpeter and composer. Throughout his life he played with various jazz groups, carrying horns with him on academic and business travels around the world in case the opportunity to play with a local group arose. 

Halbert White was born in Kansas City, Missouri on November 19, 1950. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Princeton, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and was his class Valedictorian. He earned a PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. White joined the faculty of University of Rochester in 1976 and joined University of California, San Diego, in 1979.

Dr. White founded Bates White Economic Consulting with Charles Bates in 1999. The firm is distinguished by many of Dr. White’s qualities—most notably intellectual and analytical rigor and creativity. He was especially gratified that Bates White became quickly known for setting new quality standards in the economic and econometric analysis of legal disputes.

“Hal was by any measure, a brilliant and creative man who did as much as anyone to shape and advance our knowledge in economics and finance,” said Charles Bates, Bates White Chairman. “In addition to his seminal contributions to our field, Hal was the most humble and kind man I know. Always generous with his time, he helped scores of students, coauthors, colleagues, and clients find clear paths to solutions for the most difficult questions. He will be greatly missed.”

Over the past 12 years, Dr. White became a prominent testifying expert on damages. He worked closely with legal and corporate clients on a wide variety of issues to provide both expert testimony and senior-level guidance. Dr. White’s expertise was applied to solve complex challenges for federal agencies and top companies in the pharmaceutical, investment banking, microprocessor, and financial services industries, among others.

Dr. White may be best known for his development of the standard errors test that changed the face of econometrics. White’s test is based on what are known as “White standard errors,” also sometimes called “robust standard errors” or “heteroskedasticity-consistent standard errors.” The methods he pioneered are now a standard part of practically every software package that economists use for regression analysis.

Throughout his career, Dr. White set new research standards, influencing a broad range of economic disciplines and developing innovative approaches to econometric methods, statistics, and modeling. He was described by some as a “pioneer who saw things far in advance of anyone else, clearing the path and laying the first groundwork for further study in many areas.” Among Dr. White’s more recent research interests were specification testing, parametric and nonparametric identification, and estimation of causal effects in economics with emphasis on time series data.

Dr. White’s contributions have been published in the major journals in economics, finance, statistics, and also engineering, where he has developed groundbreaking work in the field of artificial neural networks and machine learning. Dr. White published more than 150 books and articles in top journals, and he held the unique distinction of having authored the most-cited paper in the peer-reviewed economics literature since 1970.

Dr. White made countless appearances as a speaker at economic conferences around the world. He held multiple distinctions, including: Who’s Who in the World, American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and Econometric Society Fellow. He is also listed in Global Competition Review’s International Who’s Who of Competition Economists.

Learn more about Dr. White’s life and accomplishments by viewing a video and article published by SignOnSanDiego (the website of the San Diego Union-Tribune).

Dr. White is survived by his wife Teresa B. White, an artist of Rancho Santa Fe, California; his son Rich Heath West, the Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA of Utah, who resides in Park City; his daughter Rachel Heath, a photographer and Human Resources Manager of Carlsbad, California; and his sisters Celeste White, an author and artist of Redding, California; Catherine White, a harpist of Sheepscombe, England; and Lynda Lanker, an artist of Eugene, Oregon. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Dr. White’s name to the American Cancer Society (donations can be sent to American Cancer Society, PO Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718).

Dr. White’s funeral will be private. Memorial services are being planned in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC (details are pending).

Related links
Global Competition Review obituary

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