Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 103: Richard Abel Musgrave (1910–2007)
Musgrave (14 December 1910–15 January 2007) was born into a family with partially Jewish background in Königstein im Taunus, a small town north of Frankfurt am Main. In his family, endorsement of liberal and cosmopolitan ideals was accompanied by Anglophile sentiments. His father, Curt Abel-Musgrave, held a degree in chemistry, but published widely on socio-political themes and was a translator for his friends Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling, while the writings of his grandfather, Carl Abel, include German translations of Shakespeare. Richard Abel Musgrave’s scholarly achievements in combining heterogeneous traditions and “translating” economic concepts from German-language public economics to Anglo-Saxon market failure theory have a background in the cosmopolitan stance as well as in the sense of the value of plurality and wider horizons characteristic of his family. Autobiographical notes inform us about Richard’s youthful hopes for the Weimar Republic, “that ill-fated yet noble experiment in German democracy” (Musgrave 1986, 1: vii). In 1930, he went to the University of Munich to begin his study of economics. Here he heard Adolf Weber lecturing on economics along the lines of Cassel’s (1923) Theory of Social Economy, and was impressed by Otto von Zwiedeneck-Südenhorst, an Austrian economist renowned for publications on social policy and wages whose teaching programme included capital theory à la Böhm-Bawerk. Lasting influences date back to his Heidelberg years (1931–33) where he earned his diploma degree in 1933. Three names stand out: Jacob Marschak (whose work with Emil Lederer and the Kiel Institute...
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