Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 89: Abba Ptachya Lerner (1903–1982)
Abba P. Lerner was born into a Jewish family in Romania on 28 October 1903. In 1912 the family emigrated to London. Growing up in London’s East End, he became familiar with the conditions of the working class when he himself worked as a machinist and a cap maker at the age of 16. An early association with the different socialist movements prevalent in the 1920s in Great Britain brought him into contact with economics. In 1929 he enrolled to study economics at the London School of Economics (LSE). He quickly earned several scholarships for his outstanding essays, many of which were published while he was still an undergraduate. With one of these scholarships, he financed a six-month stay at Cambridge University (1934–35), where he made contact with “the Circus”, a group of young economists associated with John Maynard Keynes. Together with other graduate students from the LSE – among them P. Sweezy and U. Webb (later Hicks) – in 1933 he founded the Review of Economic Studies (RES), one of today’s leading economics journals. His appointment as assistant lecturer at the LSE in 1936 was the first of many teaching positions he held, all the others in the United States, where he emigrated in 1937 endowed with a Rockefeller grant. He taught inter alia at Columbia University, the New School for Social Research, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of California at Berkeley. He died on 27 October 1982 in Tallahassee, Florida, one day before his seventy-ninth birthday. Lerner made...
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