Dr David Law (1938-2022)

Dr David Law

Dr David Law, a former Senior Lecturer and head of the Department of Economics, died on 25 March 2022.

David was born and brought up in Belfast and educated at Annadale Grammar School. A keen shot putter he became Northern Ireland Shot Put champion at the age of 16. On leaving school he joined Irish Textiles, a Belfast linen company and was encouraged to pursue a part-time evening degree course in Economics at Queen’s University. It was only in the final year that he attended Belfast University full-time. 

On graduating, Belfast employed him as an Assistant Lecturer in Economics until 1964. With his contract coming to an end, David applied for a lectureship in Economics at Aberystwyth, swiftly progressing from lecturer to Senior lecturer. On Professor Graham Reece’s retirement and pending the appointment of a new head, David was appointed as acting head of Economics. A task he carried out with skill and humanity. He retired in 1996 just before Economics was absorbed into the newly established School of Management and Business –the now Aberystwyth Business School. Although retired David continued to give lectures at Aberystwyth, Bangor, Glamorgan and Swansea.

Academically David had one of the sharpest minds amongst a strong Economics team. His research career was motivated by intellectual interest and problem solving. There was nothing that he liked more than an intellectual argument and questioning the status quo!  He made important contributions to Regional Economics and Industrial Change, Development Economics and latterly Forecasting and Finance. 

In the area of Regional Economics, he was interested in the economic impact of industrial change and policy on Scotland, Ireland and Wales. In particular he was drawn to their effects on the population dynamics of rural areas. He wrote widely on this topic and contributed substantially to understanding the economic problems in marginal areas such as Mid Wales and Slovenia delivering papers on this topic to both national and international conferences and making many long standing friendships along the way.

In the area of Development Economics, he worked closely with the late P.N. Mathur also at Aberystwyth, a leading scholar in the area of Input-Output Economics. David was interested in using the technique to trace through the impacts of policy on aggregate incomes, output and employment, although he did have a hand in developing the ideas and application of vintage capital to the construction and application of Input-Output techniques. Several joint publications appeared in both national and international journals.

Later and after his retirement from Aberystwyth when most people would be thinking of a more leisurely life, David became his most productive. Working closely with former Aberystwyth colleagues he developed a strong interest in Financial Markets and the rehabilitation of Markovitz’s utility theory. A wide range of papers followed covering Forecasting, Market Efficiency, Insider Trading and what could be called the Economics of Gambling. Again David’s intellectual contribution was central to their success and appearance in leading academic journals.

David’s teaching, like his research, covered a wide area. He taught Industrial Economics, Economic Policy and Development Economics to undergraduates and Managerial economics to MBA students. His lectures were informative, stimulating and highly entertaining. His teaching style unique could be called “unique”. As a former student remarked “he made you think deeply and read around the subject”. Again David was more interested in getting students to question what they were learning and why and never to accept the standard interpretations. He was a very conscientious PhD supervisor and a significant contributor to developing the post graduate School at Aberystwyth based around Prof Mathur. Many of his PhD students became lifelong friends.

As a colleague David was a generous individual who gave freely of his time. A former colleague has commented “You learned a lot working with David. He forced you to write clearly spell out your assumptions and check your data carefully. Whenever you gave him a draft paper to comment on he read it carefully and his suggestions made it altogether better and often different, more interesting and relevant”.

Former colleagues and students will miss his humour, his company and the undeniable force of positivity he brought to their lives.

Emeritus Professor Nicholas Perdikis