The Growing of Ramsey's Growth Model
History of Political Economy, Vol. 41 (Supplement 1), pp. 161-181, 2009
Posted: 6 Aug 2008 Last revised: 19 Sep 2010
Date Written: August 3, 2008
Frank Plumpton Ramsey (b.: Feb. 22, 1903; d.: Jan. 19, 1930) was a Cambridge mathematician who made important contributions not only to philosophy, mathematics, logic, and probability, but also to economics with two major works published in 1927 and 1928 in the Economic Journal, which became popular only in the 1950s and 1960s. In both cases, economists portrayed Ramsey as a sleeping giant: a mathematician who had almost no impact on the economics profession prior to 1950 because his mathematical analysis was out of reach to the typical economist of his time. My goal in this article is to understand how Ramsey's growth model became part of the neoclassical literature on economic growth in the 1950s and 1960s and Ramsey became a sacred predecessor of this field. In order to better understand the stabilization of Ramsey's growth model in the postwar economics I conduct a JSTOR search and consult a few book references. Based on this dataset, I conclude that Ramsey was in fact "awake" in the economic growth literature pre-1950. I discuss as well the main economists who transported Ramsey from the Cambridge milieu of the 1920s to the North-American economics of the postwar period.
Keywords: Frank Ramsey, Economic Growth Models, Ramsey-Cass-Koopmans Model
JEL Classification: B22, B23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation