How Mathematical Economics Became (Simply) Economics: The Mathematical Training of Economists during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s in the United States"

Camila Orozco Espinel
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Publication Date: 
Monday, November 16, 2020

Before the use of mathematics in economics was generalized, mathematical and nonmathematically trained economist lived together. This paper studies this period of cohabitation. By focusing on the communication challenges between these two groups during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, a watershed moment, this paper analyzes the entrance of mathematics into economists’ training. The paper explores the development of teaching materials specific for the mathematical training of social scientists, the entrance of mathematics to the economics curriculum, and the role of the Social Science Research Council in this delivered process. All these elements are integral to understand how the mathematical methods and tools introduced by a small group of economists during the mid-twentieth century came to be adopted by the entire discipline within a couple of decades and thus effected a permanent transformation of economics.

IÉSEG, School of Management