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Professor Emeritus of Economics and Co-Director Emeritus, McMaster Decision Science Laboratory, Robert Andrew “Andy” Muller

Remembering Robert Andrew “Andy” Muller (1943 – 2021)

Colleagues remember Professor Emeritus of Economics, Andy Muller.

Oct 26, 2021


Professor Emeritus of Economics and Co-Director Emeritus, McMaster Decision Science Laboratory, Robert Andrew “Andy” Muller, passed away on October 14, 2021. He was 77 years old. 

A graduate of the University of Toronto, Andy joined McMaster’s Department of Economics in 1972 and retired in 2008. During his decades at McMaster, Andy taught undergraduate and graduate courses in microeconomics, industrial organization, environmental and resource economics, and experimental economics. 

By 1990, Andy and fellow economics professors Ken Chan and Stuart Mestelman had started studying the provision of public goods using controlled laboratory experiments against the backdrop of Mestelman’s earlier work with Doug Welland which studied different market institutions in controlled laboratory experiments. 

Andy’s interest in environmental issues led to a suggestion that they study an emission permit trading program that had been proposed for implementation in southern Ontario through the Quebec corridor. The public goods provision and the emissions trading projects formed the basis of the proposal to create the McMaster Experimental Economics Laboratory (McEEL) as part of the McMaster ECOWISE Project which obtained Tri-Council Funding and support of the Federal Government. 

Andy was a pioneer in the development of the use of controlled laboratory experiments to study economic environments in Canada. His experience in computer programming was critical to the establishment of the computer laboratory that was the heart of McEEL. He became co-director of McEEL in 1994. Since then, the facility has evolved into the McMaster Decision Science Laboratory, in which both market and non-market decision-making is studied.

Andy’s most recent contributions were in two different areas. One was a lab-based study that addressed how communication among fishers can affect the management of fisheries when output-sharing is the method of regulating over-fishing. The second was a theoretical paper examining how alternative public-sector rationing rules might affect the allocation of healthcare across individuals with different incomes and severities of healthcare needs when private healthcare financing is introduced into a system characterized by public healthcare. This second project led to a series of lab-based research publications.

“A particularly important aspect of our work together was to integrate our graduate students into our research,” said Mestelman. “Working with our graduate students, and including them in our trips to conferences, was undoubtedly beneficial to all of us and helped keep us young as we neared retirement in 2008. All of the graduate students with whom we worked from the early 1990s until retirement joined Andy in 2016 when we celebrated his contributions to experimental economics in Canada at the Meetings of the Canadian Economics Association in a session sponsored by the Canadian Experimental and Behavioural Economics Research Group."

Andy is fondly remembered by colleagues as an incredible researcher with an impressive mind.

“Andy will always be remembered for the central role he played in developing research in experimental economics at McMaster and more broadly. I greatly enjoyed conversing with Andy over lunch and drinks.  He was a great person and a great colleague.  He will be dearly missed,” said Marc-André Letendre, associate professor and chair, department of economics.

The faculty and staff of the Faculty of Social Sciences extend sincere condolences to Andy’s family and friends. He will be fondly remembered by all who knew him.

Read his full obituary here