US agricultural economist. In addition to producing his own work in agriculture, Schultz was an effective popularizer and disseminator of the ideas of others, particularly the theory of human capital and the economics of the family, associated, like human capital theory, with the name of US economist Gary Becker and other fellow economists at the University of Chicago. He shared the Nobel Prize for Economics with British economist Arthur Lewis in 1979 for his work on the problems of developing countries.
His first teaching post was at Iowa State College. In 1943 he became a professor at the University of Chicago and in the space of a decade published four critical books on US agricultural programmes, leading up to a major textbook on agricultural economics, The Economic Organization of Agriculture (1953).
Schultz was born in Arlington, South Dakota, in a German farming community. He studied agricultural economics at South Dakota State College, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1926. Moving for postgraduate work to the University of Wisconsin, he completed a master's degree in 1928 and a doctorate in 1930.
He was president of the American Economic Association in 1961, won the Francis A Walker Medal of the Association in 1972, and the Leonard Elmhirst Medal of the International Agricultural Economic Association in 1976. After retirement in 1974, he remained active as a consultant to UN Specialized Agencies.
His works include The Economic Value of Education (1963), Transforming Traditional Agriculture (1964), Economic Growth and Agriculture (1968), Restoring Economic Equilibrium: Human Capital in the Modernizing Economy (1990), and Origins of Increasing Returns (1993).