The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Lerner, Abba Ptachya (1905–1982)

  • T. Scitovsky
Reference work entry


Lerner was one of the last of the great non-mathematical economists and certainly one of the most original, versatile and prolific members of the profession. Born in Rumania, raised from early childhood in the Jewish immigrant quarter of London’s East End, he went to rabbinical school, started work at 16, working as tailor, capmaker, Hebrew School teacher, typesetter, and then founded his own printing shop. When that went bankrupt at the onset of the Great Depression, he enrolled as an evening student at the London School of Economics to find out the reason for his shop’s failure. There, his outstanding logical faculties soon became evident and won him all the available prizes and fellowships, one of which took him to Cambridge to study with Keynes. He published many major articles already as an undergraduate, was appointed temporary assistant lecturer at the London School of Economics in 1935, assistant lecturer in 1936, and in 1937 a Rockefeller fellowship took him to the United States, where he remained, although his restlessness kept him from settling at any one university for more than a few years.


Cost-push inflation Demand-pull inflation Distributional optimality Excess-claims inflation Excess-demand inflation Expectational inflation Expected and unexpected inflation Factor-price equalization Full employment Functional finance Incomes policy Inflation International trade theory Keynes, J. M. Lerner, A. P. Low full employment Marginal cost pricing Market Anti-Inflation Plan (MAP) Market pricing Market socialism Monopoly Natural rate of unemployment Optimality Optimum currency areas Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Pareto efficiency Perfect competition Socialist free enterprise Stagflation Unemployment Welfare economics 

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  1. For a representative collection of Lerner’s best writings, see D.C. Colander, ed., Selected economic writings of Abba P. Lerner, New York: New York University Press, 1983. That volume contains most of the articles cited here and also has Lerner’s complete bibliography.Google Scholar
  2. For other, more detailed appraisals of Lerner’s contribution to economics, see:Google Scholar
  3. Samuelson, P.A. 1964. A.P. Lerner at sixty. Review of Economic Studies 31 (June): 169–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Scitovsky, T. 1984. Lerner’s contribution to economics. Journal of Economic Literature 22: 1547–1571.Google Scholar
  5. Sobel, I. 1979. Abba Lerner on employment and inflation: A post-Keynesian perspective. In Essays in post-Keynesian inflation, ed. J.H. Gapinski and C.E. Rockwood. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Scitovsky
    • 1
  1. 1.