Allen was born 28 June 1900 at Kenilworth, and died 31 July 1982 at Oxford. He joined the newly created Royal Air Force as an officer in 1918. Following the war he attended the University of Birmingham where he studied under William ashley, graduating BCom in 1921 and MCom in 1922. Chance brought him a job as a lecturer in economics at Koto Shogyo Gakko in Nagoya, Japan, which he held from 1922–5; he retained a lifelong interest in the Japanese economy and culture. Returning to Birmingham in 1925, Allen was a research fellow and lecturer in industrial economics, and also studied for his PhD, which he received in 1928. His thesis was published as The Industrial Development of Birmingham and the Black Country (1929). In 1929 he moved to University College of Hull as professor of economics; in 1933 he moved to Liverpool as Brunner Professor of Economic Science; and in 1947 he was appointed professor of political economy at the University of London. He became emeritus professor in 1967. He was made a fellow of the School of Oriental and African Studies in 1973, and of St Anthony's College, Oxford in 1982.
From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.