Clive Granger was born in 1934 in Swansea, south Wales, United Kingdom, the son of Edward John Granger and Evelyn Granger. The next year his parents moved to Lincoln.
After secondary school Granger enrolled at the University of Nottingham for a joint degree in economics and mathematics, but switched to full mathematics in the second year. After receiving his BA in 1955, he remained at the University of Nottingham for a PhD in statistics under the supervision of Harry Pitt.
In 1956, at only 21, Granger was appointed a junior lecturer in statistics at the University. As he was interested mainly in applied statistics and economics Granger chose as the topic of his doctoral thesis time series analysis, a field in which he felt that relatively little work had been done at the time. In 1959 he obtained his PhD with a thesis on "Testing for Non-stationarity".
Granger spent the next academic year, 1959–60, in the USA at Princeton University under a Harkness Fellowship of the Commonwealth Fund. He had been invited to Princeton by Oskar Morgenstern to participate in his Econometric Research Project. Here, Granger worked with Michio Hatanaka as assistants to John Tukey in a project to use Fourier analysis on economic data.
Granger was married to Patricia (Lady Granger) from 1960 until his death. He is survived by their son, Mark william John, and their daughter, Claire Amanda Jane.
In 1964 Granger and Hatanaka published the results of their research in a book on Spectral Analysis of Economic Time Series (Tukey had encouraged them to write this themselves, as he was not going to publish the research results.) Granger also wrote in 1963 an article on "The typical spectral shape of an economic variable", which appeared in 1966 in Econometrica. Both the book and the article proved influential in the adoption of the new methods.
After reading, in 1968, a pre-print copy of the time series book by George Box and Gwilym Jenkins, Granger became interested in forecasting. For the next few years to follow he worked on this subject with his post-doctoral student, Paul Newbold; and they wrote a book which became a standard reference in time series forecasting (published in 1977). Using simulations, Granger and Newbold also wrote the famous 1974 paper on spurious regression; which led to a re-evaluation of previous empirical work in economics and to the econometric methodology.
In a 1969 paper in Econometrica, Granger also introduced his concept of Granger causality.
Granger was a fellow of the Econometric Society since 1972 and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy since 2002. He was voted in 2004 in the 100 Welsh Heroes.
In 1974 Granger moved to the United States, to the University of California at San Diego. In 1975 he participated in a US Bureau of Census committee chaired by Arnold Zellner on seasonal adjustment. At UCSD, Granger continued his research on time series, collaborating closely with Nobel prize co-recipient Robert Engle (whom he helped bring to UCSD), Roselyne Joyeux (on fractional integration), Timo Teräsvirta (on nonlinear time series) and others. Working with Robert Engle, he developed the concept of cointegration, introduced in a 1987 joint paper in Econometrica; for which he was awarded the Nobel prize in 2003.
In later years, Granger also used the time series methods to analyse data outside economics. Thus, he worked on a project concerned with the Amazon rainforest and built a model to forecast deforestation. The results were published in a 2002 book. Granger retired from UCSD in 2003 as a Professor Emeritus. He was a Visiting Eminent Scholar of the University of Melbourne and Canterbury University. He was a supporter of the Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, an organisation which campaigns for democratic reformation of the United Nations.
In 2003 Granger and his collaborator Robert Engle were jointly awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. He was made a Knight Bachelor in the New Year's Honours in 2005.
In all, Granger spent 22 years at the University of Nottingham. In 2005, the building that houses the Economics and Geography Departments was renamed the Sir Clive Granger Building in honour of his Nobel achievement.
Granger died on 27 May 2009, at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California.