Toward a History of Economics at MIT, 1940-1972

History of Political Economy, supplement to Volume 46, 2014, Forthcoming

22 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2015

See all articles by Beatrice Cherrier

Beatrice Cherrier

CNRS; University of Cergy-Pontoise - THEMA

Date Written: October 1, 2013


This paper tells the development of economics at MIT between 1940 and 1972. The recruitment of Samuelson in 1940 fostered the establishment of a small community of economists within an engineering institute which was itself undergoing major transformations. A “new economics” was then shaped during the fifties, one influenced by the demands of engineers, scientists and business students, and somewhat eclipsed by the promising interdisciplinary research programs emerging in the newly founded Center for International Studies. During the sixties, MIT economists instantiated the vision of Samuelson and Solow, worked to make their graduate program the most appealing of the country, and gained wide public visibility as policy-oriented scientists. Yet, beginning in the mid sixties, MIT's apparently flourishing community was increasingly challenged, internally and externally. By the early seventies, the reforms implemented in reaction to these challenges had led to a normalization/standardization of its programs.

Keywords: MIT, Department of Economics, Sloan, Center for International Studies, Solow, Samuelson, Diamond

JEL Classification: B00, B20

Suggested Citation

Cherrier, Beatrice, Toward a History of Economics at MIT, 1940-1972 (October 1, 2013). History of Political Economy, supplement to Volume 46, 2014, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Beatrice Cherrier (Contact Author)

CNRS ( email )

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University of Cergy-Pontoise - THEMA ( email )

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