Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Contributions of the Stockholm School

Role in Public Debate: The Scandinavian Welfare State
In Sweden, the public debate has been shaped by economists and by the economics profession to an unusual degree. In fact, a study launched by Carlson and Jonung claims that in Sweden, economists have more influence and higher standing than any other type of social scientist. Furthermore, they claim that this fact is what underlies the construction of the modern Swedish state. This claim is embodied in the contributions of five of the Stockholm School's most accomplished economists, who have had an influence on academic and policy circles alike. These are Wicksell, Cassel, Heckscher, Ohlin, and Myrdal. The Stockholm school is so-named because its ideological home university is the Stockholm School of Economics.

What Policies Does the Stockholm School Stand For?
In short, the Stockholm School is the practical embodiment of Social-Democratic theory. Historically seeing themselves as the antithesis of the Austrian school (a view that they do not hold alone), Stockholm school economists, they independently reached the same conclusions as JM Keynes on macroeconomic theory during the interwar period. Because the main scientists in the Stockholm school did not die immediately after the war,  Stockholmers went on to publish further policy works.

The Work of Stockholm professors served as a major source of inspiration for the construction of the modern Swedish welfare state, relying heavily on government intervention and social engineering to create a "people's home" (Swedish: "Folkhemmet"). 

This paper discusses the contributions of the five main professors of the Stockholm school.

In Swedish public debate, economists have been more influential than any other category of social scientists. We examine the views of five great Swedish economists on the role of the university economist in the public arena. What did they say about scholarly objectivity and value judgements, about political commitment and educating the people? The five economists are Knut Wicksell, Gustav Cassel, Eli Heckscher, Bertil Ohlin and Gunnar Myrdal. Representing two generations and a broad political spectrum, they were immensely productive. They founded Sweden’s tradition of media-tuned university economists strongly involved in the current social issues. More recently, however, academic economists in Sweden have shifted away from that ideal. The future of the old heritage hangs in doubt.
About the Authors:
-Benny Carlson is professor of economic history at Lund University.
-Lars Jonung is a guest professor at  Lund University School of Economics and Management, a member of the Fiscal Policy Council of Sweden, and economist at DG ECFIN at the European Commission in Brussels.


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