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Ragnar Frisch and the Postwar Norwegian Economy


  • Arild Sæther
  • Ib E. Eriksen


In the story of Norwegian economics, and of Norwegian economic policy and performance during the postwar years, a central place must be given to Ragnar Frisch (1895–1973). In 1969 he was awarded the first Nobel Prize in economics, together with Jan Tinbergen (1903–1994). In our view, the brighter parts of the story come only in the later years, and they involve the overcoming of Frisch’s influence and legacy. As professor, Frisch started a grand project to establish economics as a science based on mathematical models and quantitative analysis, creating what became known as the “Oslo School.” This school contributed to the development of a system of economic planning that became close to the centrally planned economies of Eastern Europe. The Norwegian postwar planned economy managed in the first three decades to achieve growth rates on par with the other countries in Western Europe. Growth was achieved, however, partly through investment ratios that were significantly higher than that of other countries; as a consequence, both private and public consumption rates were substantially lower. At the end of the 1970s the inefficiency of the planned economy impelled a change. Reform moved Norway toward a more decentralized market economy, where markets would be governed through a framework of general laws, taxes, and levies. The grand vision of Ragnar Frisch had dissolved.

Suggested Citation

  • Arild Sæther & Ib E. Eriksen, 2014. "Ragnar Frisch and the Postwar Norwegian Economy," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 11(1), pages 46-80, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:ejw:journl:v:11:y:2014:i:1:p:46-80

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Frisch, Ragnar, 1992. "Statics and dynamics in economic theory," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 391-401, December.
    2. Dan Johansson, 2004. "Economics Without Entrepreneurship or Institutions: A Vocabulary Analysis of Graduate Textbooks," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 1(3), pages 515-538, December.
    3. Ragnar Frisch, 2007. "Saving and Circulation Control," Rivista di storia economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 2, pages 233-248.
    4. Klovland, Jan T., 1998. "Monetary policy and business cycles in the interwar years: The Scandinavian experience," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(03), pages 309-344, December.
    5. Bjerkholt, Olav, 2005. "Markets, models and planning: the Norwegian experience," Memorandum 14/2005, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    6. Dupont-Kieffer, Ariane, 2012. "Ragnar Frisch’s “Circulation Planning”: An Attempt at Modelling General Equilibrium," OEconomia, Editions NecPlus, vol. 2012(03), pages 281-303, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ragnar Nymoen, 2017. "Between Institutions and Global Forces: Norwegian Wage Formation Since Industrialisation," Econometrics, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(1), pages 1-54, January.

    More about this item


    History of economic thought; Ragnar Frisch; Norway; Scandinavia; liberalization;

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • B20 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - General
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-


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