Joan Robinson: 1903-1983

By Geoffrey Harcourt

This paper discusses a number of aspects of Joan Robinson’s life. Most notably, it highlights the intellectual journey of the British economist Starting with a critique of Marshall’s ideas, she then adopts Keynes’ approach, being motivated by a deep reflection on the problem of unemployment. Robinson was also very interested in Marx, whom she interpreted through Kalecki, partly because she observed from first-hand experience through extensive travels the problem of underdevelopment. However, her main contribution is to have warned that economists are likely to be in error if they abandons such real situation analysis, which itself results from a historical process, not from neoclassical models.

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