Edited by Jürgen G. Backhaus
Chapter 37: Carl Menger (1840-1921)
Richard E. Wagner Carl Menger would surely occupy a secure place in anyone’s pantheon of influential economists. Along with William Stanley Jevons and Leon Walras, his work in the early 1870s initiated the neoclassical or marginal utility approach to economics. This approach continues to dominate economics even today. Menger was also one of the three founders of what came to be known as the Austrian School of economics, the other two being Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk and Friedrich Freiherr von Wieser. Recognition of a distinctive Austrian school emerged in the 1880s, flourished until the 1930s, then entered a period of quiescence, though it has shown some signs of revival, primarily in the United States, over the past two or three decades. Life and work The basic facts of Menger’s life are simple and few. He was born in Galicia, which now lies mainly across Poland and Ukraine, on what normally would be the last day of February, save that his birth year, 1840, was a leap year. His life as a university student commenced in 1859 with a year in Vienna, followed by three years in Prague, and then Krakow where he wrote his dissertation. In 1873, he was appointed to the University of Vienna where he remained until his retirement in 1903, save for the 1876-8 period which he spent tutoring and travelling with Crown Prince Rudolph. Menger retired from his teaching duties at the early age of 63 so he could devote more time to his scholarship. While his...
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