The Public Interest

A Theory of Economic Evolution

Richard N. Langlois

Fall 1983

THE year 1983 is significant in economics circles, for it is simultaneously the Keynes-Marx-Schumpeter Centennial. It has been a century since Karl Marx died and John Maynard Keynes and Joseph Schumpeter were born. To many, Schumpeter would seem the odd man of this triumvirate. Marx and Keynes wrote two of what are commonly held to be the three most important books in the history of economics (the third being Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations), and their names are instantly recognized far beyond the confines of academic economics. By those standards, Schumpeter is a comparative unknown. There are Marxian economics and Keynesian economics; there are Marxian economists and Keynesian economists (along with “neo” and “post” variants of both). But what is Schumpeterian economics? And where are the Schumpeterian economists? Unhappily, the answer is that, until recently, Schumpeter’s ideas have attracted a relatively small following within the economics profession. The reasons for this are many and complicated, but at least some of the blame must be placed on Schumpeter himself.

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