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Gunnar Myrdal

(1898—1987)


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(1898–1987)

Swedish economist, winner of the 1974 Nobel Prize for Economics jointly with Friedrich August von Hayek for his work in broadening the scope of economics.

Myrdal graduated from Stockholm University in law in 1923 and entered private practice. He later graduated in economics and lectured at Stockholm; in 1933 he took the chair of political economy and financial science at Stockholm University. Myrdal held several public posts (member of parliament, economic adviser to the Swedish legation in the USA, minister of commerce, and secretary-general of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) before being appointed professor at the Institute for International Economic Studies of Stockholm University in 1957.

Myrdal's book Monetary Equilibrium (1931) was a forerunner in some ways to Keynes's General Theory. He emphasized the dynamic nature of macroeconomic processes and in 1927 began the usage of the terms ‘ex post’ and ‘ex ante’ with particular reference to actual and planned expenditure and savings in an economy. He was well known for his work on poverty in the developing countries. Asian Drama (1968) deals with the poverty, lack of education, ill health, and underemployment in these countries; arguing that direct economic aid from the developed countries was counterproductive, Myrdal advocated instead their independent development. He wrote as an institutional economist, i e he stressed the importance of the noneconomic environment (political and social institutions and customs) of the country in which economic theory is being applied: without these factors being taken into account, the theory becomes irrelevant. Myrdal criticized the use of sophisticated mathematical techniques and believed that social, legal, health, and educational factors were necessary for the realistic study of underdeveloped economies.

Other important works include An International Economy: Problems and Prospects (1956), Economic Theory and Underdeveloped Regions (1957), Challenge to Affluence (1963), The Challenge of World Poverty (1970), and Against the Stream (1973).

Subjects: Social Sciences — Arts and Humanities.


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