Henry Schultz was born on September 4, 1893 in a Polish Jewish family in Sharkawshchyna, in the Russian Empire (now part of Belarus). " Schultz's family - father, mother (Rebecca Kissin) with their 2 sons - Henry and his brother Joseph moved to New York City in the United States. Henry Schultz completed his primary education, as well as undergraduate studies at the College of the City of New York, receiving a BA in 1916. For graduate work, Henry Schultz enrolled at Columbia University, but had to interrupt studies in 1917 because of World War I. After the war he received a scholarship which enabled him to spend 1919 at the London School of Economics and the Galton Laboratory of University College London, where he had the opportunity to attend Karl Pearson's lectures on statistics.
After returning to the US, in 1920 Schultz married to Bertha Greenstein. In the future years, the couple had two daughters, Ruth and Jean. Schultz continued studying for his doctoral degree at Columbia, while at the same time conducting statistical work for the War Trade Board, the United States Census Bureau and the United States Department of Labor. He was awarded a PhD in economics from Columbia in 1925 with a thesis entitled Estimation of Demand Curves, written under the supervision of Henry L. Moore.
Henry Schultz died on November 26, 1938, near San Diego, California, in a car accident that also killed his wife and his two daughters.
Led by his belief that economics needs rigorous quantitative study to become a science, Henry Schultz was one of the founders of mathematical and statistical economics. His research was centered around a large program dedicated to the theory and estimation of private demand for goods functions, a project which started in the early 1920s, during his studies at the University of Chicago, and was completed shortly before his death with the publication of his book, The Theory and Measurement of Demand.
Schultz was the doctoral thesis advisor for several students at Chicago, notably 1978 Nobel Prize in Economics winner Herbert A. Simon and future Cowles Commission director Theodore O. Yntema. Schultz also influenced Milton Friedman, who was his student and, for a year, his research assistant.
Schultz started a mathematical economics school at the University of Chicago which, after his death, was in danger to disappear. This prompted the University to invite the Cowles Commission, which had a research agenda focused on empirical economics, to move its headquarters there. As a result, the Commission moved to the University of Chicago in 1939 and Theodore O. Yntema, one of Schultz's students, was named as its new president.