Donald J. Harris

Donald J. Harris
Born (1938-08-23) August 23, 1938 (age 82)
  • Jamaica
  • United States
m. 1963; div. 1971)
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of London (BA)
University of California, Berkeley (MA, PhD)
ThesisInflation, Capital Accumulation and Economic Growth : A Theoretical and Numerical Analysis (1966)
Doctoral advisorDaniel McFadden
Academic work
Sub-disciplinePost-Keynesian development economics

Donald Jasper Harris (born August 23, 1938) is a Jamaican-American economist and professor emeritus at Stanford University, known for applying Post-Keynesian ideas to development economics.[1] He is the father of Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator from California and the 2020 Democratic nominee for vice president, and Maya Harris, a lawyer and political commentator.[2]

Early life and education

Harris was born in Saint Ann's Bay, Jamaica, as the son of Beryl Christie (Finnegan through her second husband) and Oscar Joseph Harris.[3] He grew up in the Orange Hill area of Saint Ann Parish, near Brown's Town.[4][5] Harris claims to be descended from slaveowner Hamilton Brown, the namesake of Brown's Town.[a][b]

Harris received a Bachelor of Arts from the University College of the West IndiesUniversity of London in 1960. In 1963 he came to the United States to earn a PhD from University of California, Berkeley which he completed in 1966.[7] His doctoral dissertation, Inflation, Capital Accumulation and Economic Growth: A Theoretical and Numerical Analysis, was supervised by econometrician Daniel McFadden.[8]


Harris was an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign from 1966 to 1967 and at Northwestern University from 1967 to 1968. He moved to the University of Wisconsin–Madison as an associate professor in 1968. In 1972, he joined the faculty of Stanford University as a professor of economics. He directed the Consortium Graduate School of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies in 1986–1987, and he was a Fulbright Scholar in Brazil in 1990 and 1991, and in Mexico in 1992. In 1998, he retired from Stanford, becoming a professor emeritus.[7]

At Stanford, his doctoral students have included Steven Fazzari, the Bert A. and Jeanette L. Lynch Distinguished Professor of Economics at Washington University in St. Louis.[8]


Harris is the author of the economics monograph Capital Accumulation and Income Distribution, published in 1978 by the Stanford University Press.[9]

He has also published several books on the economy of Jamaica including Jamaica's Export Economy: Towards a Strategy of Export-led Growth (Ian Randle, 1997)[10] and A Growth-Inducement Strategy for Jamaica in the Short and Medium Term (edited with G. Hutchinson, Planning Institute of Jamaica, 2012).[11]

Personal life

Harris moved to the United States in 1963; in July 1963 he married Shyamala Gopalan (1938–2009). They met when he was at Berkeley and both were involved in the U.S. civil rights movement. The couple divorced in December 1971, when their daughter Kamala was seven years old and their daughter Maya was four years old.[12] The children visited Harris's family in Jamaica as they grew up.[13]

In August 2020, his daughter Kamala Harris became the Democratic Party's nominee for vice president, as running mate to Joe Biden, in the 2020 United States presidential election.[12]


  1. ^ Snopes rated this claim as unproven pending further research, noting that Harris made errors in some of the vital dates he provided for births and deaths of his grandparents.[5]
  2. ^ Politifact found a lineage seemingly connecting Hamilton Brown to Kamala Harris, but noted a number of holes and inconsistencies in the records they examined, which were created by FamilySearch users and were being actively edited at the time.[6]


  1. ^ "Donald J. Harris, 1938–". The History of Economic Thought. Institute for New Economic Thinking. Retrieved 2020-08-11.
  2. ^ Barry, Ellen (August 20, 2020). "Kamala Harris's Father, a Footnote in Her Speeches, Is a Prominent Economist". The New York Times. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  3. ^ Harris, Kamala (2019). The Truths We Hold: An American Journey. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 320, 330. ISBN 978-0-525-56072-2.
  4. ^ Harris, Donald J. (26 Sep 2018). "Reflections of a Jamaican Father"., as published in "Kamala Harris' Jamaican Heritage". Jamaica Global Online. 13 Jan 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Did U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris' Ancestor Own Slaves in Jamaica?".
  6. ^ "Looking at claims Kamala Harris is the descendant of a slave owner". August 14, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Harris, Donald J. "Professional career". Stanford University. Retrieved 2020-08-11.
  8. ^ a b Donald J. Harris at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  9. ^ Reviews of Capital Accumulation and Income Distribution:
  10. ^ Collister, Keith (November 15, 2017). "How the IMF can help Jamaica unleash growth". Jamaica Observer.
  11. ^ Collister, Keith (October 22, 2014). "How to unlock growth in Jamaica". Jamaica Observer.
  12. ^ a b Igoe, Katherine J. (August 11, 2020). "Donald Harris, Kamala Harris's Dad, Is a Renowned Stanford Professor". Marie Claire.
  13. ^ Dolan, Casey (February 10, 2019). "How Kamala Harris' immigrant parents shaped her life — and her political outlook". The Mercury News. Retrieved August 14, 2020. Kamala also visited far-flung family in India and Jamaica as she grew up, getting her first taste of the broader world.


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