Kyrk, Hazel (1886–1957)
The University of Chicago economist and home economist Hazel Kyrk was a pioneer in the study of consumption decisions and of the allocation of time in households. Born in Ashley, Ohio, Kyrk was the only child of Elmer Kyrk, a drayman, and Jane Benedict Kyrk, a homemaker who died while her daughter was a teenager. After finishing high school, Hazel Kyrk taught for 3 years before entering Ohio Wesleyan University in 1904, where she supported herself by working as a mother’s helper in the household of Leon Carroll Marshall, an economics professor. When he was hired by the University of Chicago, Kyrk went with the family. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 1910 with a Ph.B. in economics and a Phi Beta Kappa key. After a year as an instructor in economics at Wellesley College, Kyrk returned to the University of Chicago to study for a Ph.D. in economics, writing her dissertation with the economic demographer James A. Field. From 1914, she also taught at Oberlin College, first as an instructor, then as an assistant professor. Taking leave from Oberlin in 1918–1919 to work on her thesis, she followed her adviser to London, where she served as a statistician for the American Division of the Allied Maritime Transport Council. Her dissertation, accepted in 1920, was published as A Theory of Consumption (1923) and won the prestigious, thousand-dollar Hart, Schaffner and Marx Prize for economic research. In that book and in The Economic Problems of the Family (1929), Kyrk discussed how social psychology shapes consumer choice and how the economic role of the housewife was moving beyond household production to being a ‘director of consumption’.
KeywordsConsumer economics Consumer price index Family economics Kyrk, H New home economics Reid, M. G
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