Chronicling 100 Years of the U.S. Economy

September 2020
Volume 100, Number 9

Robert Nathan

A Pioneer in National Income Accounting


As an economist, lawyer, author, and consultant, Robert Nathan had a varied and illustrious career. A student of Simon Kuznets, he was tapped by Kuznets to help develop the first real measurements of U.S. national income. As a leader at the Bureau of Economic Analysis' (BEA) predecessor agencies, he wrote comprehensive explanations and evaluations of national income accounting.

After many federal positions, he founded a very successful consulting firm. Nathan was a man who put his stamp on so many facets of federal economic measurement. One of Nathan's less acknowledged legacies may be his candid assessments of national income methodology, which set a tone of transparency that is still present in BEA today.

For more on Nathan and his contributions to national income accounting, see “A Tribute to Robert Nathan,” published in the February 2002 Survey of Current Business.