Wassily Leontief and the Discovery of the Input-Output Approach

122 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2016 Last revised: 29 Jan 2017

See all articles by Olav Bjerkholt

Olav Bjerkholt

University of Oslo - Department of Economics; Frisch Centre

Date Written: December 19, 2016


The paper is about Wassily Leontief’s path towards the discovery of input-output economics, as reflected in his 1936 and 1937 articles in the Review of Economic Statistics and in the 1941 monograph The Structure of American Economy, 1919-1929. The paper sets out an account of Leontief’s life from his childhood and early youth in St. Petersburg. Then followed study years in St. Petersburg and Berlin, work as research associate at the Institute of World Economics in Kiel, an adventurous trip to China, and a further year in Germany during which circumstances and luck brought him to the United States in 1931 and to Harvard shortly afterwards. The aim has more specifically been to consider and how Leontief’s discovery of an input-output approach was influenced by his earlier studies and research experience and by exchanges with Joseph Schumpeter, Ragnar Frisch, his Kieler colleagues and others.

Keywords: Leontief, input-output

JEL Classification: D57, B31

Suggested Citation

Bjerkholt, Olav, Wassily Leontief and the Discovery of the Input-Output Approach (December 19, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2884686 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2884686

Olav Bjerkholt (Contact Author)

University of Oslo - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 1095 Blindern
N-0317 Oslo

Frisch Centre ( email )

Gaustadalleen 21
N-0317 Oslo

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