Edwin Kuh, 61, an internationally known economist on the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was a pioneer in econometrics research and who also helped develop the concept of affirmative action, died of cancer June 9 at his home here.

Dr. Kuh, the director of MIT's Center for Computational Research in Economics and Management Science, was a specialist in the field of econometrics, which uses mathematical and statistical methods to study economic problems. He used econometric models to forecast production, savings, investment, business cycles and unemployment.

He was among the first to point out that productivity varies at stages in the business cycle, noting that productivity improves sharply during the cycle's recovery phase, peaks before the economy peaks and declines before the economy slides into recession.

Harvard University economist John Kenneth Galbraith called him "one of the most innovative economists of his generation," and said Dr. Kuh should be remembered for an early contribution to the idea of affirmative action.

"Some 15 or more years ago, he was one of a group of economists who urged that the civil rights movement be affirmed by a 10-year program by which large corporations and the federal, state and local governments would bring minorities and women into higher-level employment in the same proportions that they existed in the working force," Galbraith said.

Dr. Kuh had been an adviser to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) during Kennedy's 1968 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, and to the party's 1972 nominee, former senator George McGovern (D-S.D.). Dr. Kuh was active in the peace movement during the Vietnam war.

He served on the President's Materials Policy Commission and the economic advisory panel of the U.S. Postal Service. He also had been an adviser to the governments of Greece, China and Costa Rica.

Dr. Kuh was a native of Chicago. He was a 1949 graduate of Williams College and earned a doctorate at Harvard University in 1955. He joined the MIT faculty later that year.

His marriage to the former Anne Barry ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Simoni, and five children, one brother, and one grandchild.