James M. Lazard, 84, a retired business economist for the Department of Commerce, died Tuesday at Sibley Memorial Hospital. He had emphysema.

Mr. Lazard came to Washington about 1942 and went work for the Commerce Department. He was an economist with the old Office of Business Economics, now the Bureau of Economic Analysis, when he retired in 1964.

Prior to that he was a high school teacher and athletic coach in Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia and had been director of a boys' summer camp in Clifton Forge, Va. He also was an assistant to the director of he Bureau of the Census for New York state in 1940.

He was born in Chattanooga and graduated from the University of Chattanooga. He served in the Army in France during World War I.

Mr. Lazard, who lived in Washington, was a Civil War historian and served as secretary of the Civil War Roundtable of D.C. for a number of years. He also was a member of the Columbia Historical Society.

He was an amateur astronomer and enjoyed gardening and bridge. He was a member of the Kenwood Golf and Country Club in Bethesda, the Army and Navy Club in Washington and the Sgt. Jasper Post No. 13 of the American Legion.

Survivors include his wife, the former Lucille Julian, of home in Washington.