Out of Work: Unemployment and Government in Twentieth-Century America

By Richard Vedder; Lowell Gallaway | Go to book overview

2

Unemployment in Theory

With the increased interest in unemployment came intense scholarly investigation into its causes. Whereas in the nineteenth century economists were concerned about the gains from trade, the determination of prices and quantities, and optimal production levels for firms in alternative market structures, over much of the twentieth century the dominant single interest in economics was the question of the determinants of unemployment. Indeed, a whole new branch of economics, "macroeconomics," developed.

Economists since John Maynard Keynes (who died in 1946) generally accept Keynes's interpretation of what he termed the "classical" economists' position on unemployment. 1 Actually, the use of the term "classical" is somewhat inappropriate, since the "classical" economists are generally considered to have written in the period from 1776 to about 1850 or 1860. A postclassical school, developing "neoclassical economics," began around 1870, dominated economic thinking to about 1930, and remains important today; and the unemployment theory that Keynes attacked was essentially a neoclassical theory. Roughly simultaneously with the neoclassical developments, a second school of economists, the Austrians, was developing on the European continent. While the Austrian position on business cycles differed from neoclassical thinking, the Austrians reached many similar conclusions with respect to unemployment determination. Thus we can talk of a "neoclassical-Austrian" perspective on unemployment.

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Out of Work: Unemployment and Government in Twentieth-Century America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Out of Work *
  • About the Authors *
  • Contents *
  • Foreword viii
  • Preface xii
  • 1 - The Unemployment Century 1
  • 2 - Unemployment in Theory 13
  • 3 - The Neoclassical/Austrian Approach: an Overview 31
  • 4 - The Gilded Age 53
  • 5 - From New Era to New Deal 74
  • 6 - The Banking Crisis and the Labor Market 112
  • 7 - The New Deal 128
  • 8 - The Impossible Dream Come True 150
  • 9 - The Gentle Time 176
  • 10 - The Camelot Years 194
  • 11 - Pride Goeth before a Fall 209
  • 12 - The Winds of Change 226
  • 13 - The Natural Rate of Unemployment 246
  • 14 - Who Bears the Burden of Unemployment? 268
  • 15 - Unemployment and the State 288
  • Appendix 298
  • Bibliography 308
  • Index 329
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