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Catherine Morrison Paul


Catherine Morrison Paul

Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics

UC Davis



Catherine Morrison Paul, an internationally renowned economist and Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis, died on June 30, 2010 at age 57 from complications of leukemia. Morrison Paul was recognized around the world for her research on issues of productivity and efficiency in agriculture and other industries. She had a knack for identifying important economic issues and being rigorous and innovative in her work. Cathy was a natural economist.


Morrison Paul was born in Champaign, Illinois, and received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of British Columbia in 1982. Before joining UC Davis in 1995, she served as chair of the economics department at Tufts University. She also was a research economist and associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.


When she became sick in 2009 Cathy Morrison Paul was at the top of her game; internationally she was ranked in the best 15 economists who study economic productivity; in a ranking of applied econometricians, she was placed in the best 11 world-wide. Cathy's work is widely cited by hundreds of other economists who have used her papers and methodology as stepping-stones for their own work. Her studies spanned diverse topics, ranging from price markup behavior and product diversity to regulatory reform, and she developed numerous innovative empirical approaches.


Cathy was a leading scholar in the topics of economic productivity and applied econometrics and she was a master at testing economic relationships through complicated statistics and economic theory. Before she came to UC Davis, Cathy had not worked on the economics of agriculture; instead her focus was on manufacturing industries. But that changed very quickly, and to our delight in the Department. Academics have tremendous freedom in their research and Cathy could have come to UC Davis and continued to work on the economics of manufacturing industries. But that was not how Cathy operated. She had accepted a job in a leading Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, in a large agricultural state, and she felt she had a responsibility to work on problems relevant to California agriculture. Within a few years of her arrival at Davis she started publishing on the economics of agriculture, in the very best journals. Cathy rapidly gained a reputation as an expert on agricultural topics such as efficiency, market structure, and pricing behavior and she was soon in high demand for her skills in measuring economic phenomena in agriculture.


Cathy was subtle in her daily life but not exactly low-key. Not only did she have a better publication record than anyone else in our Department, it also a fact that Cathy drove a bigger pickup truck than any of her colleagues; she had big Mountain Swiss dogs; she wore a large cowboy hat, and she rode a huge horse. And she had a big heart. As she went through her life Cathy made certain statements with her big truck and her big publication record, but she did all these things with tremendous grace.


During her research career, Professor Morrison Paul wrote more than 60 peer-reviewed articles in the very top economics journals. In addition to carrying out her own research program, Cathy served as associate editor of the Journal of Productivity Analysis. She was an associate editor of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Empirical Economics. Professor Morrison Paul also contributed her time to service on some of the most important academic senate committees on the Davis campus, such as the committee on academic personnel (CAP).


Cathy married David Paul in 1998. David was from Massachusetts and when he moved to California with his new bride he became a UC Davis employee. David deserves a medal for the support, strength, and love he provided to Cathy during her illness. They were a tremendous team.


Besides her knowledge of statistics and economic systems, colleagues remember Cathy's friendliness and infectious laugh. Once you heard her laugh you never forgot it! She had a tremendous intellect but was so very down-to-earth. Cathy balanced her academic career with a number of hobbies. She created collectible teddy bears called “Cathy’s Cubs”. She also enjoyed camping and riding her horse Rylee.


Colin A. Carter