Arnold Packer, Johns Hopkins economist and workforce expert, dies

Arnold Packer, a former Johns Hopkins researcher and economist, died Oct. 17 of myelodysplastic syndrome at his La Jolla, California, home. The former Tuscany-Canterbury-area resident was 85.

Dr. Packer was the director of the SCANS 2000 Center at the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies, where he was a senior fellow from 1992 through 2004.


In 2015 he chaired the Governor’s Youth Apprenticeship Advisory Council.

“He wanted disadvantaged young people to learn the skills — reliability, trustworthiness and communication ability. He believed the best anti-poverty program was a good job. He cared about preparing youth for the workforce," said his wife, Renee Levine Packer.


”While at the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus, he lived at the Saint James Condominium on Charles Street.

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Born in Brooklyn, New York, he was the son of Lillian and Bernard Packer. The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who lived nearby, was sometimes his babysitter.

He earned a doctorate in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s degree in business administration from Sacramento State, and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Brooklyn Polytechnic University.

Dr. Packer wrote about economics, employment and training policies, lifelong learning, and human capital, including a book, Models of Economic Systems, published in 1972 by MIT Press.

He attended Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerts.

Dr. Packer moved to California in 2015.

Survivors include his wife of 31 years, a former dean of continuing studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art; two sons, Martin Packer of North Adams, Massachusetts, and Lawrence Packer of Silver Spring; a daughter, Debrin Goubert of Portland, Oregon; a sister Eleanor Rubinstein of White Plains, New York; a brother Joel Packer of New York City; and six grandchildren.

A memorial service is being planned at a later date.