Lionel Robbins on the Principles of Economic Analysis: The 1930s Lectures, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Lionel Robbins on the Principles of Economic Analysis

The 1930s Lectures, 1st Edition

By Lionel Robbins

Edited by Susan Howson


340 pages | 123 B/W Illus.

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Lionel Robbins (1898–1984) is best known to economists for his Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science (1932 and 1935). To the wider public he is well known for the 'Robbins Report' of the 1960s on Higher Education, which recommended a major expansion of university education in Britain. However, throughout his academic career – at Oxford and the London School of Economics in the 1920s, and as Professor of Economics at the School from 1929 to 1961 – he was renowned as an exceptionally gifted teacher. Generations of students remember his lectures for their clarity and comprehensiveness and for his infectious enthusiasm for his subject.

Besides his famous graduate seminar his most important and influential courses at LSE were the Principles of Economic Analysis, which he gave in the 1930s and again in the late 1940s and 1950s, as well as the History of Economic Thought, from 1953 until long after his official retirement. This book publishes for the first time the manuscript notes Robbins used for his lectures on the Principles of Economic Analysis from 1929/30 to 1934/40. At the outset of his career he took the advice of a senior colleague to prepare his lectures by writing them out fully before he presented them; the full notes for most of his pre-war lectures survive and are eminently decipherable.

Since he made two major revisions of the lectures in the 1930s the Principles notes show both the development of his own thought and the way he incorporated the major theoretical innovations made by younger economists at LSE, such as John Hicks and Nicholas Kaldor, or elsewhere, notably Joan Robinson. He intended to turn his lecture notes into a book, abandoning the project only when he was asked to chair the Committee on Higher Education in 1960. This volume is not exactly the book he wanted to write, but it is a unique record of what was taught to senior undergraduate and graduate economists in those 'years of high theory'. It will be of interest to all economists interested in the development of economics in the twentieth century.

Table of Contents


PART I 1929-31


1. The framework of economic analysis

2. The conception of equilibrium


3. Equilibrium of simple exchange

4. Equilibrium of simple exchange (continued)

5. Equilibrium of multiple exchange

6. Equilibrium of production: Factors fixed

7. Equilibrium of production: Factors fixed (continued)

8. Production: Factors flexible

9. Production: Factors flexible: labour supply (continued)

10. Equilibrium of production: Factors flexible: material factors

11. Equilibrium of production: Factors flexible: material factors (continued)

12. Interest rates, capitalization & the equilibrum of production through time

13. The supply of material factors (continued)

14. Supply of material factors (continued)

15A. General view of equilibrium theory

15B. Price relationships in the economic equilibrium [1931/2]


16. Consumers surplus

17. The laws of returns

18. Returns and costs

19. Costs: Definitions and the conditions of equilibrium

20. Costs: The supply curve and variations in demand

21. Rent, quasi rent and costs

22. Profits

PART II 1932/3-1934/5


1. Preliminary injunctions

2. Nature of economic analysis

3. The divisions of equilibrium analysis


4. Valuation and exchange: Individual disposition of goods

5. Valuation and exchange: Simple exchange

6. Production: Introduction

7. Production: Factors fixed (Acapitalistic)

8. Multiple exchange Valuation and exchange: Capitalistic production

9. The theory of interest

10. The theory of capital

PART III 1935/6-1939/40


1. The development of scientific economics

2. XIXth century economics

3. The subject matter of economics (1934/5)

4. Ends and Means


5. Valuation and Exchange: Introduction

6. Individual valuation

7. Exchange continued: Barter between two individuals

8. Multiple exchange

9. Production: Factors Fixed: Simple

10. Production: Non competing groups

11. Joint Production: Fixed Coefficients

12. Joint Production: The Laws of Returns

13. Joint Production

14. Monopoly

15. Monopoly and Distribution

16. Complex Production (continued): Joint Supply

17. Complex Production: Oligopoly

18. Capitalist Production: Conceptual

19. Time Preference

20. Capitalistic Production: Conditions equilibrium

21. Equilbrium Capitalist Production

22. Production: Labour Supply

23. The Theory of Rent


24. Differences in Demand for particular commodities: A. Commodity Price

25. Differences in Demand for particular commodities: B. Factor Prices

26. Differences in Conditions of Supply: (a) Differences in Commodity Supply

27. Differences in Conditions of Supply: (b) Differences in Commodity Supply (continued)

28. Comparative Statics: Inventions

29. Comparative Statics: Changes in Factor Supply: Labour

30. Comparative Statics: Differences in Capital Supply



About the Author/Editor

Susan Howson is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Toronto and a Fellow at Trinity College Toronto, Canada. She is the author of the distinguished biography, Lionel Robbins, published in 2011. Having written many articles on the history of economic policy in Britain, on the life and work of Lionel Robbins and on James Meade, she is now working on a biography of James Meade.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the History of Economics

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / Theory