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Philip Anthony Musgrove

Philip Anthony Musgrove (September 4, 1940- March 21, 2011) was a U.S. economist whose analytical work helped shape approaches to global health and development policy and investments from the 1980s to his death in 2011. His work focused on issues in health economics, including priority setting, financing, equity, and nutrition. Musgrove worked at the Pan American Health Organization, World Bank and the World Health Organization and provided policy advice to other development institutions and a wide range of countries. He was deeply involved in Latin America, where he worked in many countries and also lectured in several universities. He mentored a generation of health economists from Latin America. Many economists turned to Philip Musgrove to review their work for his sharp insights and editorial skill.

Musgrove was known for his ability to convey complex issues in simple ways and spark interest in new ideas. He was an original thinker, as well as an accomplished writer, speaker, editor and meeting scribe. It was important to him that people understood how health economics was different from other fields of economics. Besides health and health economics, he wrote extensively on food and nutrition, household income and consumption, natural resources and other areas that drew his curiosity.

Prior to an assignment for Argentina’s Plan Nacer project, Musgrove died in a commercial boating accident at Iguazu Falls, Argentina.

Early Life and Education


Philip Musgrove was born in Dallas, Texas on September 4, 1940.  His father was an accountant for Texaco and his mother later trained in psychology. His younger brother, John Gordan Musgrove, is an engineer. In Philip Musgrove’s early life, his father worked in Colombia and Venezuela. As a result of early exposure to Spanish and a concerted effort to reacquire it, Musgrove mastered fluency in the language to an extraordinary degree. It was said that he “dominated” Spanish.  He also became fluent in Portuguese and spoke French.


After completing his early education in Latin America, Philip Musgrove graduated from Hastings High School in Hastings-on-Hudson in 1958. That same year he also achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.


Philip Musgrove attended Haverford College from 1958-1962, graduating summa cum laude with a major in mathematics and a minor in history.  He went on to obtain a Masters in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1964.  Musgrove worked for several years at the Brookings Institution and then started his graduate studies in the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  He received his PhD from MIT in 1974.  His dissertation was titled “Determinants and Distribution of Permanent Income in Urban South America.”  His qualifying exams were in Advanced Theory, Economic Development and International Economics.


Before Philip Musgrove finished his Masters at Princeton, Joseph Grunwald hired him to work at the Brookings Institution, first as a research assistant and then a research associate. Grunwald was an economist and Latin America specialist who was an important mentor to Musgrove in his early career, both before and after his doctoral studies.  Musgrove worked again with Grunwald after he finished his graduate coursework at MIT.  Philip Musgrove was appointed Technical Coordinator at the ECIEL (Estudios Conjuntos Sobre Integración Económica Latinoamericana) Program of Joint Studies of Latin American Economic Integration. This program was headquartered at the Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, until June 1974 and then in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  He was responsible for a study of income and consumption of urban households in five South American countries (1971-1978) and for a collection of studies of income distribution in four countries (1978-1981).


During this period he also spent a year (1977-1978) as a Staff Associate at Resources for the Future responsible for a study on U.S. household consumption patterns as a function of expected future income and demographic growth and technological changes.

In 1981, Philip Musgrove moved from the Brookings Institution to work as a consultant to the World Bank on the Living Standards Measurement Study.  There, he did research on living standards, income distribution, basic needs and survey practices in less developed countries.

In 1982, Philip Musgrove joined the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) as the Regional Advisor in Health Economics and worked for eight years for this organization. He was responsible for economic analysis of the provision and financing of health care in the PAHO member countries and economic analysis of immunization and food and nutrition programs. Perhaps one of his most important contributions during this period was his analysis of the cost-benefit of polio eradication. Ciro de Quadros, who directed the Division of Vaccines and Immunizations at PAHO, remembers that Musgrove helped make the case for polio eradication to the Inter-American Development Bank, which provided a grant to the Polio Eradication Program. Musgrove’s cost-benefit analysis of polio eradication served as the basis for subsequent analysis done by WHO and others launching the global polio eradication program.

Philip Musgrove then moved to the World Bank in 1990 for twelve years, retiring as a Principal Economist.  He worked on global and country policy issues, primarily related to health and nutrition and focused on Latin America. From 1992 to 1993, he was a member of the team that produced the World Development Report 1993: Investing in Health.  From 1996 to 1998 he worked in the Bank’s Resident Mission in Brasilia, Brazil. Then, from 1998 to 1999, he was responsible for helping develop and teach the World Bank Institute’s Flagship Course in Health Reform and Sustainable Financing.

Philip Musgrove took external leave from the World Bank from 1999 to 2001 to join the World Health Organization (WHO) as Editor-in-Chief of the World Health Report 2000, which had as its focus assessing, comparing, and improving health system performance around the world. After WHO, Musgrove returned to the World Bank and edited a compilation of his own writings as Health Economics in Development, which the World Bank published in 2004.

In 2002, Musgrove retired from the World Bank and joined the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He was first Chief Economist and then an Editor of the Disease Control Priorities Project, a joint project of  NIH, WHO and the World Bank. The Project was a mammoth effort that involved over 1,000 authors and reviewers from around the world and from multiple disciplines. Its purpose was to provide information on the cost-effectiveness of health interventions in different settings with the ultimate aim of improving health through better resource allocation and support to cost-effective practices. Musgrove was responsible for consistency and comprehensibility of the economic analysis in the project and co-authored five chapters of Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2006). He reviewed both the Spanish and Portuguese versions of a shorter companion volume, Priorities in Health (World Bank, 2006) and gave numerous lectures around the world interpreting the Project’s findings in regional terms.

Philip Musgrove then joined the journal Health Affairs in 2005 as a deputy editor in charge of global health issues. This position took the majority of his time, but allowed him to also pursue research and policy work with other organizations.  He worked for the Rockefeller Foundation, Eli Lilly and Company, Abt Associates, the World Bank, and other groups from 2005 up until his death in 2011.

Teaching and Lecturing

Philip Musgrove was highly regarded as a teacher and lecturer, who taught students how to think critically with new concepts and apply them in novel situations. He took a strong interest in his students, sharing his insights and acting as a mentor.

In the United States, Musgrove taught courses in health policy and economics at American University, George Washington University, the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and the University of Florida. He was also a guest lecturer at Georgetown University and taught at the Global Health Leadership Forum, a joint program of the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, Universitat Pompeu Fabra and the University of California at Berkeley. In Latin America, he gave lectures and also taught courses at several institutions. He spoke at numerous conferences around the world.



Philip Musgrove married Zina Pisarko and they had one child, Antonina (Nina) Musgrove. The marriage ended in divorce. He later married Rosa Amalia Viana, with whom he had two children, Anthony Gordan Viana Musgrove and Maria Elizabeth Viana Musgrove. After they separated in Geneva, Philip Musgrove remained a devoted father and responsible husband, caring for his family in Brazil and engaging with his children long distance and during visits. In his last years, he enjoyed the companionship of Elinor Schwartz.

Philip Musgrove was known by friends for his breadth of interests and his formidable intellect and wit. He was a gentleman and a scholar, who was known for his warmth, generosity of spirit and lack of arrogance. He was a connoisseur of good food and wine and an adventurous cook. Musgrove collected wild mushrooms. He read widely, visited art museums and enjoyed drawing, symphony concerts and outdoors activities. Creating numerous original motorized Lego constructions, he became a certified Lego Genius in 1998. He loved puns, word games, and number games and was regarded as a raconteur.

He wrote playful analyses and poems, including Statistics of Literary Periods:  The Distribution of Full Stops in Garcia Marquez’ The Autumn of the Patriarch,” with Jose Manuel Torres Ángel (April 1984); “Why Everything Takes 2.71828 Times as Long as Expected” (The American Economic Review, March 1985), noted for its whimsical footnotes that confounded researchers, “Murphy was Wrong (and Bobby Burns was Right)” (July 1989);  and “The Water-Drop Model of Bureaucracy: A New View of Organizations,” (July 1989, revised 1991); He self-published “Same, Different/ Letters, Sound” and also wrote Mr. Llewellyn, Who Had Too Many “L”s; and I Don’t Get It, spelling poems for young readers (1992, revised 2004). He was a prolific writer of poetry and placed in poetry and literary competitions. 


Philip Musgrove authored more than 20 chapters in books, at least 60 articles in professional journals and over 20 working and conference papers.

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