The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Young, Allyn Abbott (1876–1929)

  • Peter Newman
Reference work entry


Allyn Young’s career presents a puzzle. He is best known to modern readers, if at all, as the author of one much-reprinted article on ‘Increasing Returns and Economic Progress’ (1928). With such a narrow base his present fame can of course hardly compare with that of some other leading American economists of his day, such as Irving Fisher, Frank Knight, Wesley Mitchell and Thorstein Veblen. Yet during his life he was very highly regarded indeed, and not just by a US economics profession more insular then than now. To Schumpeter, ‘his published work … [does] … not convey any idea of the width and depth of his thought and still less of what he meant to American economics’ (1954, p. 875, n23). To Keynes, in a letter of consolation to Young’s widow, ‘His was the outstanding personality in the economic world and the most lovable’ (Blitch 1983, p. 22). To Ohlin, he was ‘a man, who knew and thoroughly understood his subject – economics – better than anyone else I have ever met’ (Blitch 1983, p. 14). The London School of Economics, in the mid-1920s flush with Rockefeller money and looking to make an ‘appointment to the new chair [that] should be so eminent as to be the basis of a major expansion’, chose Young ‘after a prolonged search of the English-speaking world’ (Robbins 1971, p. 119).


Chamberlin, E. H. Division of labour External economies Increasing returns Keynes, J. M. Knight, F. H. Pigou, A. C. Roundabout methods of production Supply price Young, A. A 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Newman
    • 1
  1. 1.