1st Edition

The Early History of Economics in the United States The Influence of the German Historical School of Economics on Teaching and Theory

By Birsen Filip Copyright 2023
    268 Pages
    by Routledge

    268 Pages
    by Routledge

    Since the latter half of the 20th century, the economics departments of American universities were internationally renowned for providing competitive and advanced levels of education. However, from the 1870s up until the beginning of WWI, German universities held international supremacy when it came to the quality of teaching, the enrollment of foreign students, and scholarly publications. This book examines the role of the German Historical School of Economics (GHSE) in the development of the discipline of economics in the US during this period.

    The chapters explain that, prior to the influence of the GHSE, political economy was in a dismal state in the US, both as a profession and an academic discipline. As a result, many Americans elected to go to Germany in pursuit of an advanced education in political economy, having been inspired by the unmatched international reputations of theorists of the GHSE. After they returned home, these German-trained Americans challenged the dominant status of classical orthodoxy and revolutionized the discipline of economics in the US by importing the ideas, methods, and approaches of the GHSE. In doing so, they established the first dedicated political economy departments, graduate programs, and chairs at American universities and colleges. Although the precise magnitude and value of the influence of the GHSE is impossible to quantify, there is no doubt that Americans are deeply indebted to this school of thought for its contributions to the early development of the discipline of economics in the US. The chapters also examine what has been lost since: the current mainstream in economics has eliminated many of the features that were once so important to the discipline that it has effectively limited contemporary economics to a small fraction of the complex organism defined by the German Historical School. This situation has facilitated the poverty of the leading economic school of thought, as well as the discipline of economics in general.

    This book represents a significant contribution to the literature on the history of economic thought and economic education in the US. It will be of particular interest to students and scholars of economics, political science, sociology, and the philosophy of economics.

    1. Introduction

    2.The German Historical School of Economics and Its Intellectual Sources: Cameralism and the Historical School of Jurisprudence

    3. An Overview of Fundamental Features of the German Historical School of Economics

    4. German-Trained American Political Economists and the Influence of the German Historical School of Economics

    5. The Early Establishment of Political Economy Departments at American Colleges and Universities

    6. The GHSE and the Establishment of Economic Associations and Journals in the United States

    7. The New School on the Conservation of the Natural Environment

    8. The Decline and Demise of the German Historical School of Economics 

    9. Conclusion: The Demise of the New School and the Abolishment of Freedom and Human Progress via the Coercive Powers of the State and Corporations


    Birsen Filip holds a PhD in philosophy and master’s degrees in economics and philosophy. She has published numerous articles and chapters on a range of topics, including political philosophy, geopolitics, and the history of economic thought, with a focus on the Austrian School of Economics and the German Historical School of Economics.