Bertil Ohlin

Bertil Ohlin
(1899 - 1979)

Swedish economist and political leader who is known as the founder of the modern theory of the dynamics of trade. In 1977 he shared the Nobel Prize for Economics with James Meade.
Ohlin studied at the University of Lund and at Stockholm University under Eli Heckscher. His interest in international trade developed early, and he presented in 1922 a thesis on trade theory. Ohlin studied for a period at both the University of Oxford and Harvard University; at the latter institution he was influenced by Frank Taussig and John H. Williams. He obtained his doctorate from Stockholm University in 1924 and the following year became a professor at the University of Copenhagen. In 1930 he succeeded Heckscher at Stockholm University. At this time Ohlin became engaged in a controversy with John Maynard Keynes, contradicting the latter's view that Germany could not pay war reparations. This debate over reparations had much influence on the modern theory of unilateral international payments.

In 1933 Ohlin published a work that won him world renown, Interregional and International Trade. In this Ohlin built upon earlier work by Heckscher and on the approach in his own doctoral thesis to provide a theory of the basis of international trade; it is now known as the Heckscher-Ohlin theory and has become standard. It also provided the basis for later work on the effects of protection on real wages. As a member of the "Stockholm school" of economists, Ohlin developed, from the foundations laid by Knut Wicksell, a theoretical treatment of macroeconomic policy and the importance of aggregate demand which anticipated that of Keynes.

Ohlin served as head of the Liberal Party in Sweden from 1944 to 1967. He was a member of the Riksdag (parliament) from 1938 to 1970 and was minister of commerce (1944-45) in Sweden's wartime government.

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