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Mythical Ages and Methodological Strictures - Joan Robinson's Contributions to the Theory of Economic Growth


  • Peter Skott

    (University of Massachusetts Amherst)


This paper considers some methodological aspects of Joan Robinson's contribution to post-Keynesian growth theory. Joan Robinson's criticisms of equilibrium analysis, of the conflation of logical and historical time and of the uses (and misuses) of mathematical formalisation are scathing. But while many of her points are well taken, parts of her argument appear questionable. As a result, her methodological critique of equilibrium economics may be misleading. Moreover, she failed to appreciate the potential gains from mathematical formalisation. The further development of a Robinsonian analysis of economic growth calls for a reconsideration of these aspects of her legacy.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Skott, 2004. "Mythical Ages and Methodological Strictures - Joan Robinson's Contributions to the Theory of Economic Growth," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2004-09, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ums:papers:2004-09

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tobin, James, 1975. "Keynesian Models of Recession and Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(2), pages 195-202, May.
    2. Chiarella,Carl & Flaschel,Peter, 2011. "The Dynamics of Keynesian Monetary Growth," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521180184, November.
    3. Gram, Harvey & Walsh, Vivian, 1983. "Joan Robinson's Economics in Retrospect," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 518-550, June.
    4. Bliss, C. J., 1975. "Capital Theory and the Distribution of Income," Elsevier Monographs, Elsevier, edition 1, number 9780720436044 edited by Bliss, C. J..
    5. Avi J. Cohen, 1993. "Does Joan Robinson's Critique of Equilibrium Entail Theoretical Nihilism?," Chapters, in: Gary Mongiovi & Christof Rühl (ed.), MACROECONOMIC THEORY, chapter 13, pages 222-240, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Peter Flaschel & Peter Skott, 2006. "Steindlian Models Of Growth And Stagnation," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 303-338, July.
    7. Kaldor, Nicholas, 1972. "The Irrelevance of Equilibrium Economics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 82(328), pages 1237-1255, December.
    8. Philip Arestis & Malcolm Sawyer, 1992. "A Biographical Dictionary of Dissenting Economists," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 20, December.
    9. Skott,Peter, 2008. "Conflict and Effective Demand in Economic Growth," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521066310, November.
    10. Amitava Krishna Dutt, 1986. "Wage Rigidity and Unemployment: The Simple Diagrammatics of Two Views," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 279-290, December.
    11. Peter Flaschel & Reiner Franke, 2000. "An Old-Keynesian Note on Destabilizing Price Flexibility," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 273-283.
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniyal Khan, 2015. "On Joan Robinson’s Abandonment of Exploitation," Working Papers 1515, New School for Social Research, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item


    Joan Robinson; equilibrium; stability; historical time;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models

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