The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Dickinson, Henry Douglas (1899–1969)

  • David Collard
Reference work entry


Dickinson went from the King’s School, Wimbledon, to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he took the Part II Tripos in both Economics and History. He carried out research at the London School of Economics under Cannan, then went to teaching posts at Leeds and Bristol, where he held the chair of economics from 1951 to 1964. Although his Institutional Revenue (1932) is of interest for generalizing the concept of institutional rents, he is deservedly known for a series of writings which attempted to reconcile choice and individual freedom with socialist planning, in the tradition of market socialism. Together with Taylor, Lange and Lerner he provided a rebuttal (based on actual markets) of von Mises’s view that rational allocation under socialism was impossible. He saw ‘the beautiful systems of economic equilibrium’ not as ‘descriptions of society as it is but prophetic visions of a socialist economy of the future’ (1933, p. 247). During the 1930s his writings were well known to intellectuals of the Left, including Cole, Dalton, Durbin and Laski. The best-known of his works is the Economics of Socialism (1939). His technical prowess was later exhibited in a Review of Economic Studies article of 1954–5 in which he formulated a constant elasticity of substitution production function (CES) for the first time and anticipated some of the neoclassical growth results of Solow and Swan. ‘Dick’, as he was universally known, was a much loved, unworldly, eccentric figure with a keen sense of fun and a most astute mind.


CES production function Institutional rents Market socialism Neoclassical growth theory 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Collard
    • 1
  1. 1.