JEWS IN ECONOMICS

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Apart from Adam Smith, the greatest of the classical economists was David Ricardo, who is regarded by many to be the founder of economics as a science involving analytical modeling and mathematical analysis.  According to John Maynard Keynes, "Ricardo's mind was the greatest that ever addressed itself to economics."1  Ricardo formulated the famous laws of comparative advantage and of diminishing returns (the latter also discovered by Malthus).  Moreover, Ricardo's principled arguments for non-inflationary monetary policy and for free trade were instrumental in gaining passage of the Peel Act and repeal of the Corn Laws in England, which played a major role in unleashing the full potential of the industrial revolution.  Other major Jewish figures in the history of economic thought include Karl Marx, Ludwig von Mises, Paul Samuelson, Kenneth Arrow, Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, and John von Neumann.2

Jews currently constitute over 40% of the membership of the economic sciences division of the US National Academy of Sciences.  Contained below are links to lists of prominent Jewish economists and of the Jewish recipients of the two most prestigious awards in the field.

NOTES
1. Quoted in The Making of Modern Economics: The Lives and Ideas of the Great Thinkers, by Mark Skousen (M. E. Sharpe, NY, 2001, p.95).
2. In addition to inventing mathematical game theory, von Neumann is considered to be one of the three inventors (along with the Jewish mathematicians George B. Dantzig and Leonid Kantorovich) of linear programming.  This technique is probably the single most widely employed mathematical method in the world today.  The late Eugene Lawler of Berkeley characterized linear programming as follows: "It is used to allocate resources, plan production, schedule workers, plan investment portfolios, and formulate marketing (and military) strategies.  The versatility and economic impact of linear programming in today's industrial world is truly awesome"; see http://www.stanford.edu/group/SOL/dantzig.html.  For more on von Neumann's contributions to economics, see http://www.economyprofessor.com/theorists/johnvonneumann.php.


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