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The early history of the Phillips curve


  • Thomas M. Humphrey


The Phillips Curve depicts a relationship between inflation and unemployment in graphical or equation form. In a previous article (see the March /April issue of this Review), Thomas Humphrey catalogued the various formulations of the relationship that have appeared since the publication in 1958 of A. W. Phillips’ famous article on the subject. In the present article, Humphrey turns to the history of monetary doctrines seeking precursors of the modern formulations in the writings of Phillips’ forerunners. Humphrey finds an early representation of a Phillips Curve relationship in the writings of David Hume. Other pioneers in the curve’s pre-history include Irving Fisher, who first attempted to verify the relationship statistically, Jan Tinbergen, who estimated the first econometric Phillips Curve equation, and Paul Sultan, who first represented the relationship as a graph. Also considered are the contributions of Henry Thornton, John Stuart Mill, Lawrence Klein, A. J. Brown and others. Despite the work of these men, the Phillips Curve did not gain wide acceptance until the 1960s. Humphrey suggests several reasons for its belated popularity.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas M. Humphrey, 1985. "The early history of the Phillips curve," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sep, pages 17-24.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrer:y:1985:i:sep:p:17-24:n:v.71no.5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Amid-Hozour, E & Dick, D T & Lucier, Richard L, 1971. "Sultan Schedule and Phillips Curve: An Historical Note," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 38(151), pages 319-320, August.
    2. Donner, Arthur & McCollum, James F, 1972. "The Phillips Curve: An Historical Note," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 39(155), pages 323-324, August.
    3. Bacon, Robert, 1973. "The Phillips Curve: Another Forerunner," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 40(159), pages 314-315, August.
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    Blog mentions

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      by Alberto Bagnai in Goofynomics on 2012-04-12 17:24:00
      by free-italia in Free Italia on 2012-04-13 15:30:00


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    Cited by:

    1. J. Aschheim & G.S. Tavlas, 1994. "Nominal anchors for monetary policy: a doctrinal analysis," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 47(191), pages 469-494.
    2. Stefan Gerlach & Reamonn Lydon & Rebecca Stuart, 2016. "Unemployment and inflation in Ireland: 1926–2012," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 10(3), pages 345-364, September.
    3. Bozena Kaderabkova, 2016. "Development of the economic cycle on labour market in the national economy and industry of the Czech Republi," Proceedings of Business and Management Conferences 4407037, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
    4. Edward Nelson, 2007. "The Great Inflation and Early Disinflation in Japan and Germany," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 3(4), pages 23-76, December.
    5. Hawkins, Raymond J., 2017. "Macroeconomic susceptibility, inflation, and aggregate supply," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 469(C), pages 15-22.
    6. Emilie Ja?ová, 2016. "The effect of the psychological factor among companies onto the NAIRU and economic cycle on the labour market," Proceedings of International Academic Conferences 5307026, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
    7. José Francisco Bellod Redondo, 2013. "La NAIRU y la pseudociencia neoliberal," Revista de Economía Crítica, Asociación de Economía Crítica, vol. 16, pages 18-43.
    8. Emilie Jasova, 2014. "A Model for Estimation of NAIRU Extended by Demand Shocks and its Application to Business Cycle Analysis in the Labour Market in Hungary and Poland," Proceedings of Economics and Finance Conferences 0401788, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
    9. Emilie Jašová & Božena Kaderábková, 2012. "Comparing NAIRU and Economic Cycle from the Perspective of Labour Market in the Countries of the Visegrad Group," Economic Studies journal, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute, issue 4, pages 3-23.
    10. Ferreira, Diego & Palma, Andreza Aparecida, 2015. "Forecasting Inflation with the Phillips Curve: A Dynamic Model Averaging Approach for Brazil," Revista Brasileira de Economia - RBE, FGV/EPGE - Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil), vol. 69(4), December.

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