Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I
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Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert

Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz

Volume I contains original biographical profiles of many of the most important and influential economists from the seventeenth century to the present day. These inform the reader about their lives, works and impact on the further development of the discipline. The emphasis is on their lasting contributions to our understanding of the complex system known as the economy. The entries also shed light on the means and ways in which the functioning of this system can be improved and its dysfunction reduced. Each Handbook can be read individually and acts as a self-contained volume in its own right. It can be purchased separately or as part of a three-volume set.
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Chapter 80: Ragnar Anton Kittil Frisch (1895–1973)

Olav Bjerkholt


Ragnar Anton Kittil Frisch was born on 3 March 1895 in Kristiania (Oslo), Norway. His father, Anton Frisch, was a jeweller descending from a mining specialist from Saxony who had come to Norway in the seventeenth century. Ragnar was the only child and groomed to continue the family business. He credited his mother, Ragna Fredrikke Kittilsen, for having influenced his general outlook on life and for having insisted that he took up a university study along with his apprenticeship to become a silversmith. The short (two-year) study of economics was chosen (Nobel Foundation 1969b). Ragnar Frisch is known in particular for his role in creating econometrics. He coined ‘econometrics’ as the name of a new discipline in economics outlining an ambitious research program (Frisch 1926). He gathered support for the idea by initiating and being the driving force behind the establishment of the Econometric Society in 1930, for a long time the only international organization in economics. Frisch launched during 1926–36 a number of ground-breaking ideas for the new econometric discipline, one of which was his propagation-impulse explanation of business cycles (Frisch 1933a), alluded to in the caption for the first Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel awarded to Ragnar Frisch in 1969 (jointly with Jan Tinbergen) “for having developed and applied dynamic models for the analysis of economic processes” (Nobel Foundation 1969a). At his graduation in economics in 1919, Frisch ended his examination paper in public finance as follows: “Man must not be...

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