Jan 13 2022

In memory of Athar Hussain (1943-2021)


It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Athar Hussain. Athar died peacefully in hospital in October 2021 after a long illness. His wife Jill Hodges and their daughter Lalla were at his bedside. He had been a devoted and prolific Research Fellow at LSE for almost three decades,  funded by commissions and grants. He was a member of the India Observatory and Head of the LSE South Asia Research Centre.

His fields of research were development economics, alongside welfare and public policy – richly comparative because the areas of his research included not only his native Pakistan but also India, China, and more recently Vietnam. Before these more empirical policy studies he was engaged in more theoretical expositions and critiques. Throughout he was a congenial collaborative researcher and co-author.

Professor Nick Stern recalls an outstanding intellectual with an extraordinary range of interests and skills (plus a mastery of a range of languages including Chinese):

“We met first as graduate students in 1968 in Oxford and I learned from him continually over a friendship of over more than half a century. In our early days we discussed a lot of economic theory, planning, and public policy. He appeared to have read everything from serious philosophy to the most mathematical of modelling. It was as a scholar of China that he was probably the best known and so many of us would look to him for guidance.

“He could discern not only the big picture and the arc of history but also the details of what was actually happening. I remember him at a joint meeting of the British Academy and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences carefully explaining the functions and difficulties of the Hukou, or household registration system, in a way that was really helpful to many China scholars. He was also an immensely kind person always ready to help including, in my case, lending a splendid ‘flying pigeon’ bicycle for me to use in Beijing. He contributed to LSE including for an extended period as head of the South Asia Research Centre.

“Athar brought many Chinese students to the school, some of whom worked closely with us in STICERD. One of them, Wang Limin, has written that the many waves of young Chinese officials taught by Athar received economics training and were helped to connect research directly with policy-making, and many of them are now working in high places in China.”

Professor Stephan Feuchtwang recalls an intellectual, a work comrade and a friend:

“He was an important part of my life. We had each read Marx’s main works carefully. He and I shared a network of critical Marxists. He co-authored with Keith Tribe studies of Marxism and the agrarian question, with Paul Hirst and others a study of Marx’s Capital and capitalism today, with Mark Cousins a study of the thought of Michel Foucault, and with me studies of the Chinese economy in the nineteen eighties. More recently he did me the favour of asking me to join him in a team of researchers to study urbanisation in China, in this century.

“As a personal friend I fondly remember his acquisitiveness of languages, not just Chinese but Italian. One vivid memory is of us walking up a mountain in the Apuan Alps, he plugged in to a taped Italian lesson. Then he acquired a capacity to read Chinese economic and demographic statistics, having learned the characters for their categories, so as not to rely on their translation into English. From there amazingly he learned through friendship with Chinese colleagues to speak and collect from them idioms and colloquialisms. I had spent university years learning to read Chinese and many months in China to speak. He put me to shame. My parental language is German, and my second language, after English is French. Athar could speak and read German and French better than me, and now threatened to better me in Chinese, though not in Italian.

“I am indebted to his analyses of Chinese economies in many ways. When we organised the seminars that resulted in our volumes on the Chinese Economic Reforms in the Eighties, he was indispensable not only for his study of the Chinese economy, but also in providing comparisons with the Hungarian and other “post-socialist” economic reforms. In the core course of the master’s degree I designed at LSE on China in comparative perspective, his papers on post-socialist “transition” and on the financial sector in the new Chinese economy were indispensable.

“I am grateful in particular for two key contributions. One is the measure of excess deaths that can be gathered from Chinese official statistics as a measure of the Great Leap Famine, 1959-61. The other is that the post-Mao economic reforms should not be judged merely in terms of orthodox economic notions of efficiency, but to see the creation of labour-intensive industrial units as increasing employment and the spread of income.

“We both treasure our times and our work together with him. We will miss him.”

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Oct 18 2021

In memory of Professor George Philip (1951- 2021)


The Department of Government is deeply saddened by the death, on 13 October, of George Philip, Emeritus Professor of Comparative and Latin American Politics at the LSE.  Born in London in 1951, George Philip received his doctorate from Oxford University and joined the Department of Government in 1976. In a distinguished academic career that spanned over 40 years, he became one of the leading Latin Americanists of his generation.

George Philip’s academic writings addressed key issues of Latin American politics and political economy.  His early works focussed on oil and politics in Latin America (Oil and Politics in Latin America: Nationalist Movements and State Companies), a topic on which he wrote extensively throughout his career. But his work was not defined by narrow specialisms (he defined himself as fox rather than a hedgehog in Isaiah Berlin’s terms). He covered, among others, questions about military power (The Military in South American Politics) the condition of democracy in the region (Democracy in Latin America: Surviving Conflict and Crisis?) and the region’s turn to the left in the early 21st Century (The Triumph of Politics. The Return of the Left in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador). George Philip had a special interest in Mexico, a country in which he had an extensive network of academic and political contacts and from where many of his doctoral students came from. His 1992 book, The Presidency in Mexican Politics, became one the most authoritative works on Mexico’s political institutions of the time.

George Philip introduced several generations of both undergraduate and postgraduate students to the politics of Latin America. He had the talent to make the complex politics of the region understandable and compelling for an audience that may have no previous knowledge of it.  His graduate seminars often adjourned to one of the LSE pubs, where discussions about politics continued and mixed with debates about culture and, of course, his beloved football.  He tutored a large number of PhD students, many of whom went to have important positions in public life in their home countries and made a point of visiting him when back in London.  He was a generous mentor for both postgraduate students and junior colleagues.  Behind the façade of an Oxford-educated English academic, he had a great sense of humour and was easily approachable.

George Philip occupied positions of responsibility in the Department and in the School. He was Convenor (Head of Department) between 2004 and 2007. At School-level he served as Vice Chancellor (Academic) and in several School committees.  Those who worked with him knew his quality. George Philip will be remembered as a top academic, a kind and decent man a generous mentor, and a proud Professor in the Department. He is survived by his wife, Carol.

Contribution by Professor Francisco Panizza 
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Aug 18 2021

In memory of David Marsden


It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Professor David Marsden, who died unexpectedly on Tuesday 10 August 2021 following complications of cancer treatment. Our deepest sympathies are with David’s wife, Professor Alice Lam, and his son, Antony Lam-Marsden.

David joined LSE as a Lecturer in the Department of Industrial Relations in 1980. He had a long and distinguished career at LSE, first in the Department of Industrial Relations where he was promoted to Professor, and subsequently in the Department of Management. As his wife Alice has said, David ‘was ultimately an LSE man and totally dedicated to his work.’  This commitment shone through in his scholarship, his teaching and generous collegiality. As David’s close colleague Jonathan Booth put it, ‘David was not only a colleague, he was a friend, mentor, and champion for junior faculty and supportive to many others – from students at all levels to professional services staff.’

David was an original and creative scholar. A talented linguist, David excelled at cross-national comparison and thought deeply about the origins and durability of institutional diversity. In his influential book, A Theory of Employment Systems: Micro-Foundations of Societal Diversity (1999, Oxford University Press), David developed a novel theory of how institutions shaped work organisation and employment relations within firms. He had wide interests in employment relations, publishing important studies on youth employment and training, performance related pay, performance management and individual employee voice. David also made significant policy contributions, authoring numerous reports and acting as an adviser to the European Commission, the International Labour Organisation, the OECD, the World Bank, and to various UK trade unions. Throughout his work, David was concerned to improve conditions for ordinary people, in the workplace and society.

Not only did David publish in all the major industrial relations journals, he also founded two journals. David was a founding editor of Industrielle Beziehungen (the German Journal of Industrial Relations), and, together with Alex Hicks, he also founded Socio-Economic Review (SER), acting as editor from 2001-2006. Establishing journals is a rare accomplishment; these thriving journals stand as a lasting tribute to David’s intellectual enthusiasm and creativity. In addition, David served as an editor of Travail et Emploi (a research journal published by the French ministry of labour), was co-editor of the International Public Management Journal between 2005 and 2011, and served as general editor of the British Journal of Industrial Relations from 2012 until his death. His support for interdisciplinary work was expressed by his long-standing relationship with the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE), serving as SASE President in 2002-2003 and acting as organiser for the network on “Labour Markets, Education, and Human Resources” over several decades, where he welcomed generations of young international scholars into SASE.

David was a dedicated teacher, who enjoyed taking students on an intellectual journey. For many years he taught Comparative Employment Relations and later Comparative Human Resource Management, sharing his sophisticated understanding of cross-national diversity with students. Most recently, David taught Negotiation Analysis, a labour of love which was deeply appreciated by students. He was rightly proud of his successful leadership of this course, for which he received an LSE ‘Excellence in Education Award’ in 2018.

David was also an active citizen of the Department and LSE. Among his many roles, he served as a Member of Council 2008-2013 and Vice-Chair of the Academic Board 2010-2013. He was also Head of the Department of Industrial Relations 2001-2004, and Faculty Group Lead of ER-HR from 2015.

David was hugely appreciated by colleagues not only as a scholar, but for his kindness, warmth and generosity. He was unfailingly considerate and thoughtful, fostering a culture of mutual respect and support. He nurtured and encouraged many young scholars. It was a privilege to work with David; he will be greatly missed.

In David we have lost an inspiring scholar, colleague and friend, who will be long remembered at LSE and across the scholarly community.

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Jun 15 2021

In memory of Lucien Paul Foldes (1930-2021)

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Lucien Foldes on the right in conversation with a female colleague. The image is black and white, and the two are in a library.Lucien Paul Foldes (1930-2021) is remembered as a much respected pioneering innovator of mathematical finance, mediating between the fledgling theory of mathematicians and established economic theory, with martingale utility-gradient methods his legacy. Engaging and collegial, quiet but sharp-witted, impeccable in both style and mathematics, he was a true gentleman of the old order – born in Vienna of Austrian-French-Hungarian parentage. Orphaned (in 1935) by the loss of his father, he emigrated to England in summer 1938 with his mother, ordained by an employment-bound visa to a post as cook to Professor Morris Ginsberg (LSE Sociology). At their hosts’ instigation, he attended Bunce Court School in Faversham, Kent (1938-1945) and Monkton Wyld School in Charmouth, Dorset (1945-1947), both progressive, then as a second-year entrant into LSE (from Regent Street Polytechnic) he read for the B. Com. (Industry and Trade), Professor Sir Arnold Plant being his tutor. In 1950 he gained First Class Honours and in 1952 an MSc. (Econ.) in Business Administration. Appointed in 1951-52 Assistant in Economics at LSE, then in 1954, on returning from compulsory National Service, Assistant Lecturer, he was promoted to Lecturer in 1955, Reader in 1961 and Professor in 1979, he retired in 1996 as Emeritus Professor of Economics, remaining throughout a member of the Financial Markets Group and the Systemic Risk Centre.

Earliest research focussed on theoretical problems of costs, capital, welfare and uncertainty, alongside `applied’ questions of pricing policy, financial control and regulation of industry. In the 1950s his thesis-led research concentrated on delegation in budgeting and control of public enterprise. During the 1960s he turned to microeconomics and welfare (investment, redistribution, monopoly) then to quantitative decision models, with focus risk and uncertainty. Deeper immersion into mathematics (analysis and probability theory – self-taught) produced a foundational contribution on expected utility and then a slew of papers in stochastic analysis of risk in investment decisions.

Among the first to use martingale methods in financial theory as optimality conditions, he was first to model price processes with general semimartingales and to introduce random measures into investment modelling. As recognised expert, he lectured on Semimartingale Calculus in Portfolio Theory at the 1992 Oberwolfach Conference on Mathematical Finance.

Foldes first considered optimal saving and consumption planning in continuous time for risky returns to capital, establishing existence of an optimal plan, characterised via martingale properties of shadow prices and finite welfare conditions.

Later he extended this framework to the Ramsey-style, Arrow-Kurz growth model encompassing a production function whereby capital (and population, the supplier of labour) determines output, introducing Brownian uncertainty into the various components. Here his martingale condition reduces to a pair of first-order nonlinear ODEs. These connect `average propensity to consume out of capital’ and `elasticity of consumption with respect to capital’. Phase-plane arguments  for economically significant parameters establish uniqueness of a trajectory through the unique pair of stable and unstable asymptotic nodes of the system (as capital tends to high or low levels) yielding the optimal consumption function. His geometric approach draws in novel tools from stable manifold theory, indicating the impact of perturbing economically significant parameters. This bears `on important classical questions of economic theory [whose resolution] should supersede various scattered results in the literature…[despite not being] related directly to statistical data…’ (Foldes).

His continued investigations were slowed by the poor condition of his heart, and his passing was precipitated by an accidental fall. He leaves widowed Carol Foldes, his constant mainstay and devoted wife (one may add also his tex-amanuensis) in a partnership of over 50 years, also forged within the LSE community.

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May 25 2021

In memory Professor Ailsa Land (1927-2021)


Black and white image of Ailsa Land with short hair and a dark jacket, against a white backgroundAilsa H. Land (nee Dicken) died on 16 May, aged almost 94. She was born in West Bromwich, Staffordshire in 1927 and grew up in the West Midlands. In early 1939, in the face of the coming war, she and her mother travelled to Canada.  She remained there for the next five years, finishing school, and in 1943 enrolling with her mother in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, requiring her to pretend she was older than her actual age. She ended her military service in 1944 in Ottawa at the National Defence Headquarters. She and her mother then returned to the UK to re-join her father who had been in the RAF. She came to LSE in 1946 as a student on the BSc(Econ). LSE was to be the home for her professional life thereafter.

Graduating in 1950, Ailsa became a Research Assistant in the Economics Research Division at LSE. In the same year she met her husband-to-be, Frank Land, who was also an LSE graduate and Research Assistant in the Economics Research Division, and they married in 1953. Alisa’s academic interests were and remained ‘activity analysis’ and its application, in today’s terms mathematical programming, scheduling and optimization. Her PhD was awarded in 1956 on the application of Operational Research techniques to the transportation of coking coal.

Her LSE career developed over the next 25 years as she progressed from lecturer to professor, in 1980, and head of the LSE Operational Research group. She and Frank, who was LSE professor of Information Systems, raised a son and two daughters, and their family grew with 7 grandchildren and 2 great-grand-children. She retired from LSE in 1987 but continued to work on optimization problems.  In her words at the time, ‘Now I’m retired I can do some research!”

Among Ailsa’s major academic contributions is the Land-Doig algorithm for branch and bound optimization with integer variables, work undertaken with Alison Doig, now Alison Harcourt[i]. Professor Richard Steinberg,  Chair in Operations Research in the Department of Management writes about the Land-Doig algorithm: “It is used to solve mathematical optimization problems where the solutions need to be whole numbers, which includes an enormous number of important practical problems.  The naïve approach to such problems is to enumerate every possible solution and then choose the best one, a Herculean, often impossible, task.  Branch-and-bound is a devilishly clever enumeration procedure that eliminates large swathes of inferior solutions in one go, often saving huge amounts of computation time and, in many cases, making an otherwise-unsolvable problem solvable.   Ailsa’s paper with Alison on branch-and-bound, published in Econometrica in 1960, has been cited and applied literally many thousands of times.”

Notably, Ailsa’s work on optimization took an economist’s perspective rather than that of a mathematician. Her book of Fortran Codes for Mathematical Programming [ii], work undertaken with Susan Powell, set a standard for open shared code and its creative documentation. Throughout her career she engaged with and contributed to the solution of practical problems with an undimmed sense of the potential for radical ideas and she was critical of the abstract and narrow mathematical research focus that became prevalent in Operational Research.

In 1994 she was awarded the Canadian Operational Research Society Harold Lardner Prize, and in 2019 the Beale Medal of the British OR Society, which is given in recognition of a sustained contribution to OR in the UK. The citation for her Beale Medal award well summarised her contributions: “Her work in branch and bound reshaped the field of mathematical programming and its influence continues to this day… In addition, Ailsa Land has advanced the methodology of OR through publication of significant work on shortest path algorithms, quadratic programming, bicriteria decision problems, and statistical data fitting… Since retirement from LSE in 1987, she has continued research projects, resulting in contributions to Data Envelopment Analysis, Combinatorial Auctions, and the Quadratic Assignment Problem.” [iii]

Ailsa was the first woman in the UK to hold a full professorship in Operational Research. In the 1980s, she was a rare woman professor role model at LSE. She led the Operational Research group confidently, avoiding institutional entanglements and creating a research environment that allowed her, her colleagues, and her students to pursue their intellectual interests.  Her impact on the development of her discipline is underlined by the stream of PhD students, who rose to eminence world-wide. LSE now offers an Ailsa Land Prize  for the best overall performance by a student on the MSc Operations Research & Analytics.

The combination of impactful academic work, raising a happy family and being active in your community is a tall order. Ailsa showed us it can be done in a gracious manner, and her reassuring beautiful smile was precious source of encouragement and optimism for all of us lucky to have known her.

Chrisanthi Avgerou and Tony Cornford
Department of Management

[i] Land, A.H. and Doig, A.G. (1960). “An automatic method of solving discrete programming problems“. Econometrica. 28 (3). pp. 497–520. doi:10.2307/1910129. JSTOR 1910129.

[ii] Land, A. H and Powell, S (1973). Fortran codes for mathematical programming: linear, quadratic and discrete. London; New York: Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-51270-7. OCLC 814498.

[iii] https://www.theorsociety.com/membership/awards-medals-and-scholarships/beale-medal/previous-awards/

See also her INFORMS interview:  https://www.informs.org/Explore/History-of-O.R.-Excellence/Biographical-Profiles/Land-Ailsa-H


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May 17 2021

In memory of Mike Oliver (1952 – 2021)


Tuesday 28 September 2021
Remembrance Service at LSE

We are holding a remembrance service at LSE on Tuesday 28 September 2021 to celebrate Mike’s life. To find out more about the service and timings, please view this Google form and RSVP by 5pm on Wednesday 15 September 2021. The service will be streamed online for those unable to attend in person. 

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our dear friend and colleague Mike Oliver.

Mike joined LSE in 1986 as the first external appointee to the newly created Research and Consultancy Office. He saw the Division change name several times and grow from just two members of staff sharing a single desk and telephone to the team it is today. Over the years he built up an in-depth understanding of how LSE works and an encyclopaedic knowledge of sponsors and how best to attract their attention. He supported thousands of research funding applications and generations of researchers with professionalism, efficiency and a willingness to help. In 2015 he was delighted to be presented with the inaugural Director’s Award at the Values in Practice Awards for the “key role he played in launching so many individual and collective achievements”.

Working at LSE was a huge part of his life and, in what should have been his retirement years, he chose instead to continue working full time in a role he loved. He said he could not think of a career that he would have enjoyed as much.

His kindness, sense of humour and love of good conversation over a pint gained him many friends across the whole of LSE and tributes have been flooding in from colleagues old and new. We are privileged to have known him and will miss him deeply.

Share your thoughts and memories of working with Mike.

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Mar 3 2021

In memory of Wilson Antonio Zabala


It is with great sadness to report the passing of our dear friend and colleague Wilson Antonio Zabala.

Wilson worked on the LSE campus since 2014 with Noonan having become a member of the Estates Division from in March 2018.

He was a very cheerful individual, hardworking, punctual and full of energy. Wilson had been battling cancer for some time and sadly passed away in Valencia, Spain in August. He will be deeply missed by the team he worked with and our condolences are with his wife and daughter.

Mary Lee, LSE Estates

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Feb 26 2021

In memory of Professor Robert Pinker


Professor Robert PinkerProfessor Robert Pinker

Robert Pinker, who has died aged nearly 90, grew up near Tufnell Park and attended Holloway County School. He did his National Service in the Royal Ulster Rifles. He began his academic career at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), receiving a certificate in Social Science and Administration (1959).

Bob, with Peter Townsend, conducted 80% of the research interviews for the Townsend’s influential book, The Last Refuge (1962).

He contributed to the research for Brian Abel Smith’s book ‘The Hospitals’ (1964) and produced a separate volume, ‘English Hospital Statistics 1861-1938’ for which he was awarded an MSc (1965).

His academic career took him from Head of Sociology at Goldsmiths College (1964-1972), with a strong emphasis on social policy, to a Chair in the Social Policy Department at LSE. He was also Pro-Director of LSE (1985-88) and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Social Sciences at the University of London 1989-1990. He was Lewisham Professor of Social Administration, Goldsmiths and Bedford College (1972-1974), Professor of Social Studies, Chelsea College, University of London (1974-1978), Professor of Social Work Studies, LSE (1978-1993), including Departmental Convenor (1982-1985),  and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Social Sciences and Continuing Education, University of London ((1989-1990), and Professor of Social Administration, LSE (1993-1996).

Important Publications include: ‘Social Theory and Social Policy’ 1971; ‘The Welfare State: a comparative perspective’ 1973 ; the ‘Idea of Welfare’ 1979; ‘Social Work in an Enterprise Society’ 1990; and ‘Privacy and Personality Rights: commercial Exploitation and Protection’ (with Robert Deacon and Nigel Lipton) 2010.

Professor  Pinker also editor of series of seven books by Heinemann Studies in Social Policy and Welfare. In his book ‘The Idea of Welfare’ Pinker brought together a wide range of comparative views, based upon an analysis of Social Policy in Britain, Russia and America. His view can be summarised thus, (p42):

“In trying to make sense and create order out of an increasingly complex process of social change men and women learn to systematize and extend their conceptual universes. Social Polices are attempts to give, through the force of statutes and administrative practice, a relative continuity and permanence to what might otherwise be only transient extensions of human imagination and empathy.”

He received various honours throughout his life; an elected Fellow of the Society of Editors in 2004, CBE in 2005, Hon. LLD of the University of Ulster (2016) and in 2015 the Social Policy Society awarded him their Special Recognition Award for his “consistent sustained and long-standing contribution to the field of Social Policy through research or teaching and learning.”

His interests extended beyond his academic work, and he was a successful participant in public life, first as a member of the Advertising Standards Authority, then as Privacy Commissioner, and later, Chair of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC)

Days before his death he received the 2020 Astor Award for Press Freedom from the Commonwealth Press Union (CPU). Lord Black of Brentwood, Chair of the CPU described him as, “An indomitable champion of free speech, free press and of self-regulation. His work not only just strengthened press freedom but – as a result – strengthened the Commonwealth, too.”

After retiring from the PCC in 2004, he served for two years as Chair of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Press Council, the first such body in the Balkans, and had continued helping to establish press councils in overseas countries, including Sri Lanka and South Sudan.

He was approachable to all and a man of many interests outside academic and public life. He was a great conversationalist, a good listener and extremely kind and supportive of many who turned to him for advice. In recent days several students have written to me extolling Bob’s virtues as a teacher and advisor in both academic and pastoral matters.

He managed the work life balance without ever referring to that concept. Hs wife Jen, to whom he was devoted, died 25 years ago after 25 years of marriage. They had two daughters, Cathy and Lucy, as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren. They were the centre of his life and he filled his house in Blackheath with books, conversation, and laughter.

He followed the fortunes of Chelsea FC and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of professional boxing. He also loved old motor cars and for many years the family car was a Daimler.

He often reminisced about his upbringing in north London and always enjoyed traditional, family home cooking. He considered a good, shop-bought, fish and chip supper a special treat.

A special man who will be much missed.

John Carrier

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Feb 17 2021

In memory of Professor Saw Swee Hock (1931-2021)


It is with great sadness that LSE writes in memory of Professor Saw Swee Hock, one of our most eminent alumni, benefactors and Honorary Fellows and Distinguished Alumni Leadership recipient, who died on Tuesday 16 February 2021.

Professor Saw Swee Hock at the official opening of the LSESU Saw Swee Hock Student Centre on the 24th October 2014

Prof Saw’, as he was so fondly known as across the LSE community, received his BA and MA from the University of Malaya in Singapore (the predecessor to the National University of Singapore), before coming to LSE to study for his PhD in Statistics, which he completed in 1963.

There followed a long and prolific career in academia and public service. Professor Saw’s career included positions at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, the University of Hong Kong and the National University of Singapore (NUS), from which he emerged as a recognised and respected expert on population and investment management.

Pioneering the study of statistics in many of the region’s most renowned and prestigious universities, Professor Saw demonstrated an impressive and unstinting devotion to his field that continued throughout his life. He held visiting positions at universities including Princeton, Stanford, Cambridge and was a Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and President’s Honorary Professor of Statistics at NUS.

In an article in 2012 for LSE’s supporter magazine, Impact, Professor Saw reflected on his time at the School and sharing this with his wife who was also studying in London at the time. Professor Saw remember this as “one of the most significant events of my life”. Citing the high level of academic rigour and excellence that he encountered at LSE as “preparing him well to pursue a career in academia.”

Professor Saw’s commitment to education continued through his philanthropy, notable towards his alma maters. In the past decade Professor Saw bestowed extraordinary gifts to LSE. As a result of Professor Saw’s donations, The LSE Saw Swee Hock Student Centre opened in 2013 and the LSE Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre, a multidisciplinary Research Centre founded in 2014, are named in recognition of his outstanding generosity. His support of some of the most distinguished scholars from LSE to study at the School is also a significant part of his legacy. These tremendous pillars of support across teaching, research and community will have lasting impact for generations to come.

Prof. Yao Qiwei, from the Department of Statistics at LSE and the Saw Swee Hock Professor of Statistics at National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2020, commented “I remember vividly my conversation with Prof. Saw during my time at the Department of Statistics and Applied Probability at NUS in early 2020. His keen interest and curiosity in statistics and data science was almost infectious. One can easily tell that he cared deeply about the study of statistics at NUS and LSE. We all are grateful for his generous support to LSE. I myself am extremely honoured to be Saw Swee Hock Professor of Statistics in 2020”.

Professor Saw’s association with LSE spanned over 60 years, he was highly revered by the LSE alumni community in Singapore and admired by LSE faculty and students alike. It was a great honour for the School to recognise Professor Saw as an Honorary Fellow in 2006 in recognition of his illustrious academic career and his transformative philanthropy. He also received LSE’s inaugural Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award in 2015.

Professor Saw’s generosity has impacted many generations of students and faculty and will continue to do so for years to come.  We will be eternally thankful to call Professor Saw an alumnus of LSE. We will remember his extraordinary modesty, warmth, kindness, judicious insight and, of course, the glint in his eye with his wonderful sense of humour and the laughter that always followed. Prof Saw will be deeply missed. Requiescat in pace et surget in gloria.

A private family funeral will take place in Singapore on Thursday 18 February.

Professor Saw Swee Hock is survived by his wife, Cheng Siok Hwa, daughters Seang Mei and Seang Pin, his son, Seang Kuan, and five grandchildren. Our thoughts and prayers are very much with them at this time. When circumstances allow, we look forward to appropriately honouring Professor Saw’s life and contributions to LSE, both on campus and in Singapore.

Posted by: Posted on by LSE External Communications

Jan 5 2021

In memory of Basil Selig Yamey (1919-2020)


Basil Selig Yamey

Basil Selig Yamey was born in Cape Town (South Africa) on 4 May 1919. He studied at the University of Cape Town, where he graduated in December 1938 with a B. Com. degree with distinction. One of his teachers, William Baxter, the Professor of Accounting at the University of Cape Town, had LSE connections and encouraged Basil to further his studies there. In March 1939, he registered as a Ph.D. student at LSE with a thesis entitled ‘Shareholders, Accounting, and the Law’, to be supervised by Arnold Plant. In May 1940, his studies, because of the war, were suspended, and he worked under Arnold Plant at the Ministry of Information.

Basil returned to South Africa at the end of 1940 and was appointed Lecturer in Commerce at Rhodes University College, Grahamstown. He enlisted in the South African Air Force (SAAF) at the end of 1941 and worked in the Statistical Section of Air Headquarters. Basil left the SAAF in February 1945 and returned to teaching at Rhodes University College, but moved to the University of Cape Town in July 1946, where he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Commerce.

In 1947, Baxter returned to LSE to become Professor  of Accounting, the first such post in Britain, and he encouraged Basil to return to LSE. So in 1947 Basil applied for the post of Reader in Commerce at the LSE, but accepted the position of Lecturer in Commerce, with the understanding that he would be considered for a Readership in Commerce when that post was created.

He joined the staff at LSE in December 1947, but stayed only one year, resigning  in December 1948, to become an Associate Professor of Marketing in the School of Commerce at McGill University, Montreal. In March 1950, the LSE Director wrote to Basil to see if he was interested in returning to LSE to a Readership in Economics (with Special Reference to Distribution). The offer was accepted the offer and Basil returned to LSE as a Reader in Economics from 1st October 1950. In June 1956, Richard Sayers, the Editor of journal Economica, wrote to Basil to invite him to become Assistant Editor of the journal. Thus began a long association with the journal, where he was the Editor from 1960 to 1974.

In January 1960, Basil Yamey became Professor of Economics at LSE and he taught there until he retired in 1984, when he continued his association with the School as Emeritus Professor.

In 1948 Basil married twenty-year-old Helen Bloch in Cape Town. They had a son, Robert Adam in 1952, and a daughter, Jill Alison in 1956. After she came to London, Helen attended the St Martin’s School of Art, where she studied sculpture. She died in 1980. Basil married Demetra Geogakopoulou in 1991.

In his research, Basil was interested in the history of accounting and spent much time researching the historical  development of accounting in Italy. For example, on the basis of his detailed analysis of historical accounting records (Yamey 1949), he criticised the theory put forward by Werner Sombart (Sombart 1924)  that the double-entry bookkeeping (DEB) system was a precondition, or at least an important stimulating factor, for the emergence of modern capitalism. Yamey’s research suggested that while teaching manuals over many years had preached the benefits of the DEB system, many firms still continued to use the older single-entry as modern capitalists. His work was important in encouraging other researchers to explore this area of economics.

Basil’s research led him to oppose monopolies and his criticisms of the operation of Retail Price Maintenance influenced opinion towards ending its operation in 1964. He was appointed to the Cinematograph Film Council in 1960 and served as a part-time member of the of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission 1966 to 1978. His interest in the free operation of markets led to his involvement in the Institute of Economic Affairs, where he was a member of the Advisory Council from 1962 to 1984. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1977.

Book cover: Art & AccountingBasil loved art and served as a Trustee of the National Gallery from 1974 to 1981 and a Trustee of the Tate Gallery from 1978 to 1981. He combined this love of art with his research into the history of accounting when, in 1989, he published Art and Accounting, a book that reproduced over 100 images of bookkeepers at work from several centuries of European art.

In 2019, twenty-eight of Basil’s colleagues, former students and his long-time LSE secretary took the opportunity to express the admiration and respect they had for him as a person and for his achievements by contributing to a book that was published to celebrate his centenary, entitled Basil Yamey at the LSE:A Birthday Tribute. From among his colleagues there were many tributes to his approachability and help when they were newly arrived in the Economics Department, of his open-mindedness and fairness in his advice. His help as a mentor to junior members of the Department was warmly appreciated by them as was patience and support. His research in Italy led to contacts with Italian universities and there were a number of Italian contributors, including Romano Prodi, who had come to LSE as research students and reported on how well he had looked after them. His former secretary recorded that he was a delight to  work for and that his enthusiasm for his research into early Italian accounting had led to her development of a love of Italian art.

Outside of the Economics Department, Basil played his part in the functioning of the School: he was Vice-Chairman of the Appointments Committee for three years, a member of the Standing Committee for three years and a member of the Committee on Administrative and Library Staff. He was Convenor of the Economics Department from 1966 to 1969.  Ralf Dahrendorf paid tribute to his role by noting that he was “one of those on the academic side who for one reason or another commanded respect at the School … had a commitment to the School and a way of getting on with all groups”. (Dahrendorf, 1995, p. 488).

Basil died on 19 November 2020.

Jim Thomas

(Emeritus Reader in Economics and Research Associate, STICERD, LSE)



Dahrendorf, R. (1995) A History of the London School of Economics and Political Science 1895—1995, (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

London School of Economics (2019) Basil Yamey at the LSE: A Birthday Tribute, (London: London School of Economics).

Sombart, W. (1924) Der Moderne Kapitalismus, (Munich).

Yamey, B.S. (1949) ‘Scientific Bookkeeping and the Rise of Capitalism’, Economic History Review, Vol.1, No. 2/3, 99-113.

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