Gunnar Myrdal (gŭn´är mĬr´däl, Swed. mür´däl), 1898–1987, Swedish economist, sociologist, and public official; husband of Alva Myrdal. A graduate (1927) of the Univ. of Stockholm, he became lecturer (1927) and professor (1931) of economics there. His Crisis in the Population Question (1934), written with his wife, stimulated general welfare measures, which Myrdal helped to shape as a member (1933–38) of various government commissions. For the Carnegie Corp. of America he headed (1938–42) a study of race relations in America that resulted in the exhaustively detailed An American Dilemma (1944, new ed. 1962), written in collaboration with R. M. E. Sterner and Arnold Rose. It examined racial problems in the United States and concluded that they were inextricably entwined with the democratic functioning of American society. Myrdal was Swedish secretary of commerce (1945–47) and executive secretary (1947–57) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. In Rich Lands and Poor (1957) he advocated greater aid for the economic development of the poorer nations, and in Asian Drama (3 vol., 1968) he analyzed the social and economic factors affecting the governments of Asia. A foremost expert on the Swedish economy, he also wrote studies such as The Cost of Living in Sweden, 1830–1930 (1933, tr. 1933). He shared the 1974 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
See also his Challenge of World Poverty (1970) and Against the Stream (1973).