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Economist Hans Brems dies at 84

Mark Reutter, Business Editor
(217) 333-0568;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Hans Brems, a University of Illinois professor who helped popularize the use of mathematics as a tool of modern economics, died Sept. 16 at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana. He was 84.

Brems was a leading figure in the history of economic thought and specialized in quantitative model-building. His eight books include "Fiscal Theory: Government, Inflation and Growth" (1983) and "Pioneering Economic Theory, 1630-1980: A Mathematical Restatement" (1986).

He contributed to leading economic journals in the United States and Europe, developing broad mathematical approaches to the question of the economic growth of nations, and the effects over time of capital, employment rates, labor supply, inflation and interest rates.

Born on Oct. 16, 1915, in Viborg, Denmark, Brems received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Copenhagen. Before joining the Illinois economics faculty in 1954, he taught at the University of California at Berkeley.

During his 32-year career at the UI, he lectured widely in Europe, and spoke and wrote Swedish and German. He became a U.S. citizen in 1958. He continued to teach part time in the College of Commerce and Business Administration after retiring from the university in 1986.

In 1970, Brems was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Swedish School of Business in Helsinki, Finland, for his contributions to the theory of monopolistic competition. He was a member of the American Economic Association, Econometric Society, Royal Economic Society and the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters.

In 1990, he completed a study of how best to reorganize the economies of Eastern European countries emerging from Communist rule.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Ulla Simoni Brems of Urbana, and three daughters, Lisa Brayton of Dedham, Mass.; Karen Kurreck of Los Altos Hills, Calif.; and Marianne Brems of Portola Valley, Calif.

Memorial contributions may be made to the University of Illinois Foundation.