The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics (2008), 2nd Edition, is an eight-volume reference work, edited by Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume. It contains 5.8 million words and spans 7,680 pages with 1,872 articles. Included are 1057 new articles and, from earlier, 80 essays that are designated as "classics", 157 revised articles, and 550 edited articles. It is the product of 1,506 contributors, including 25 Nobel Laureates in Economics. It is also available in a searchable, hyperlinked online version with added content from quarterly updates. The articles are classified according to the Journal of Economic Literature (JEL) classification codes. The publisher is Palgrave Macmillan.

The first edition, The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics (1987), was published in four volumes.[1][2] Institutional access to full-text online articles for both editions is available by subscription.[3]


Comments of two reviewers on the 1987 edition

General remarks

Reviewing the 1987 edition for the New York Times, Robert M. Solow concluded that "this is a dictionary only in a very special sense. There are excellent survey articles, in various sizes, on various subjects. But the best of them are written by professionals for professionals." According to Solow, graduate students in economics would find the dictionary useful, but most of the articles would be inaccessible to non-economists, even undergraduate students of the liberal arts. For economists, however, the dictionary provided many excellent overviews of contemporary research. [4]

Contemporary economics and its technical core

Presenting the results of contemporary economics to the general reader is difficult, because mathematics is so prevalent. Economics articles typically use linear algebra, calculus, optimization theory, statistics, and econometrics. Commenting on contemporary economics, Solow described technical economics as its essential "infrastructure":

There is a lesson in the fate of Palgrave. Economics is no longer a fit conversation piece for ladies and gentlemen. It has become a technical subject. Like any technical subject it attracts some people who are more interested in the technique than the subject. That is too bad, but it may be inevitable. In any case, do not kid yourself: the technical core of economics is indispensable infrastructure for the political economy. That is why, if you consult Palgrave looking for enlightenment about the world today, you will be led to technical economics, or history, or nothing at all.[4]

More advanced mathematics was implicit in some of the articles, many of which were well written and reasonably accessible. Solow recommended the "broad and deep" article on game theory by Robert J. Aumann for well-equipped graduate students, along with John Harsanyi's article on bargaining theory. The articles on financial economics were "written by the best people—Stephen Ross, Robert Merton, and others—and they show it"; however, they were too difficult for the average investor. Complimenting the article on international trade, Solow added a caveat lector: "But God forbid that" a reader without knowledge of economics should try to understand protectionism, by consulting the New Palgrave.[4]

In his review, George Stigler commended the dictionary's non-technical and conceptually rich article on social choice, which was written by Kenneth Arrow, among "numerous" excellent articles. However, Stigler criticized the inclusion of "dozens" of articles in mathematical economics, which failed to provide intuitive introductions to the problem, how it was solved, and what the solution is: "These articles were written, not for a tolerably competent economist, but exclusively for fellow specialists."[5]

Criticisms of undue weight for heterodox approaches

Robert M. Solow criticized the 1987 edition for slighting mainstream economics by giving excessive space to the "dissenting fringes within academic economics", namely Marxist economics as well as "Austrian persuasion", Post-Keynesians, and neo-Ricardian.[4]

Nevertheless, there is usually a definite consensus—there is one now—and an accurate picture of the discipline would make that clear. It would have to give dissent a fair shake. It would have to treat mainstream ideas critically. But it should keep the various "paradigms" in proportion. I do not think The New Palgrave has managed to do that. The most obvious, though not the most important, manifestation of imbalance is the large number of items devoted to Marxist themes, from "abstract and concrete labor" to "vulgar economy." Some of the articles are informative, some are mystifying; but that is not the point. Marx was an important and influential thinker, and Marxism has been a doctrine with intellectual and practical influence. The fact is, however, that most serious English-speaking economists regard Marxist economics as an irrelevant dead end. The New Palgrave does not take up the issue head on, but I think it gives a false impression of the state of play by this deadpan statement. It is rather as if a medical dictionary were to intersperse articles on mainstream orthopedics, written by orthopedists, with articles on osteopathy, written by osteopaths, and were to leave it at that.[4]

The 1987 dictionary's discussion of heterodox approaches was also criticized by George Stigler, who singled out Marxist economics, including "neo-Ricardian" economists (who follow Piero Sraffa): "A nonprofessional reader would never guess from these volumes that economists working in the Marxian-Sraffian tradition represent a small minority of modern economists, and that their writings have virtually no impact upon the professional work of most economists in major English-language universities." Stigler provided a table of articles that were biased by Marxist orthodoxy and criticized some authors by name, especially a "violently pro-Marxist" entry by C. B. Macpherson.[5]

Editors and contributors of the revised 2008 edition

The General Editors are Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume

The Associate Editors are:

  • Roger Backhouse, Professor of the History and Philosophy of Economics, Birmingham, UK
  • Mark Bils, Professor of Economics, Rochester, USA
  • Moshe Buchinsky, Professor of Economics, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
  • Gregory Clark, Professor of Economics, University of California, Davis, USA
  • Catherine Eckel, Professor of Economics and Political Economy, University of Texas at Dallas, USA
  • Marcel Fafchamps, Professor of Development Economics, Oxford, UK
  • David Genesove, Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
  • James Hines, Professor of Economics, University of Michigan, USA
  • Barry Ickes, Professor of Economics, Penn State University, USA
  • Yannis Ioannides, Professor of Economics, Tufts University, USA
  • Eckhard Janeba, Professor of Economics, University of Mannheim, Germany
  • Shelly Lundberg, Castor Professor of Economics, University of Washington, USA
  • John Nachbar, Professor of Economics, Washington University (St Louis), USA
  • Lee Ohanian, Professor of Economics, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
  • Joon Park, Professor of Economics, Texas A&M University, USA
  • John Karl Scholz, Professor of Economics, University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA
  • Christopher Taber, Professor of Economics, University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA
  • Bruce Weinberg, Professor of Economics at The Ohio State University, USA

Other high-profile contributors include:

  • Daron Acemoglu, John Bates Clark Award; member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; author of the forthcoming book Introduction to Modern Economics Growth
  • Philippe Aghion, 2001 Yrjo Jahnsson Award; co-editor of Handbook of Economic Growth
  • William Baumol, author of Good Capitalism, Bad Captalism, and the Economics of Growth and Prosperity
  • Alan Blinder, Vice Chairman, Board of Governors, US Federal Reserve; member of Council of Economic Advisors (Clinton Administration); member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; author of Hard Heads, Soft Hearts: Tough Minded Economics for a Just Society
  • Samuel Bowles, served as an economic advisor to the World Bank and the International Labor Organization; co-author of Schooling in Capitalist America and Microeconomics: Behavior, Institutions and Evolution
  • Tyler Cowen, New York Times columnist; author of Discover Your Inner Economist
  • Peter Diamond, Nemmers Prize; member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Sciences; author of Saving Social Security: A Balanced Approach
  • Avinash Dixit, president of the American Economic Association; member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Corresponding (Foreign) Fellow of the British Academy; former president of the Econometric Society
  • William Easterly, author of The Elusive Quest for Growth : Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics and The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good
  • Stanley Fischer, Governor of the Bank of Israel; formerly President of Citigroup International
  • Robert H. Frank, author of The Economic Naturalist
  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin, chief economic advisor to the McCain campaign
  • Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics
  • Paul Klemperer, Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, elected 2005; Fellow of the British Academy, elected 1999
  • Richard Posner, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • Jeffrey Sachs, author of The End of Poverty
  • Thomas Sargent, former president of the American Economic Association; former president of the Econometric Society; member of the American Academy and National Academy
  • Robert Shiller, author of The Subprime Solution: How Today's Global Financial Crisis Happened, and What to Do about It

Nobel Laureate contributors include George Akerlof, Maurice Allais, Kenneth Arrow, Robert Aumann, James Buchanan, Gerard Debreu, Milton Friedman, Clive Granger, John Harsanyi, James Heckman, Leonid Kantorovich, Wassily Leontief, Harry Markowitz, Robert C. Merton, Roger Myerson, Edmund Phelps, Edward Prescott, Paul Samuelson, Amartya Sen, Herbert Simon, Vernon L. Smith, George Stigler, Joseph E. Stiglitz, James Tobin, and William Vickrey.

A complete list of articles and associated authors is here. The articles are classified according to the Journal of Economic Literature (JEL) classification codes.

The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics

The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics (1987) is the title of the first New Palgrave edition. It is a four-volume reference edited by John Eatwell, Murray Milgate, and Peter Newman. It has 4,000 pages of entries, including 1,300 subject entries (with 4,000 cross-references), and 655 biographies. There were 927 contributors, including 13 Nobel Laureates in Economics at the time of first publication. It includes about 50 articles from Palgrave’s Dictionary of Political Economy (1925–1927).[2] It was roughly twice the length of its predecessor and differed further in excluding most subjects not on economics or closely related to its practice.[6]

Contents by volume number

Contents include;

List of Entries A-Z, including cross-references, at the beginning of each volume.
Volume 1: A-D.
Volume 2: E-J.
Volume 3: K-P.
Volume 4: Q-Z.
Appendix I: Entries by author
Appendix II: Biographies of persons in Palgrave's Dictionary (1925) but not The New Palgrave
Appendix III: Entries by author in Palgrave's Dictionary (1925-27)
Appendix IV: Subject Index
Index: 38 pp.

Earlier editions

R. H. Inglis Palgrave’s Dictionary of Political Economy (1894–1899), 3 v., was the forerunner of The New Palgrave. The initial contractual agreement between Palgrave and the publisher Macmillan & Co. is dated 1888. Serial installments in 1891-92 had disappointing sales. An appendix was added to Volume III in 1908, so completing publication of the set. The Dictionary was wide-ranging and sometimes idiosyncratic. It included for example a comprehensive treatment of laws on property and commercial transactions. Professional reaction has been described as generally favorable and unsurprising, "given that almost all economists of any repute had already endorsed the enterprise by agreeing to contribute."[6] Nearly thirty years after the first volume appeared, Palgrave’s Dictionary of Political Economy (1923–1926), edited by Henry Higgs, appeared with Palgrave's name added to the title but few changes in structure or contents.[7]


  1. ^ "The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics" PDF (press +) from Palgrave Macmillan (U.S.).
  2. ^ a b The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics (1987). Description.
  3. ^ The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics Online.(subscription required)
  4. ^ a b c d e Robert M. Solow, New York Times "The Wide, Wide World of Wealth", March 28, 1998
  5. ^ a b Stigler (1988, p. 1732)
  6. ^ a b George J. Stigler (1988). "Palgrave's Dictionary of Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, 26(4), p. 1729. [Pp. 1729-1736.]
  7. ^ Murray Milgate (1987 [2008]). "Palgrave's Dictionary of Political Economy," The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, v. 3, pp. 791-92.

See also


External links

Publisher’s description, Palgrave Macmillan (U.K.)
Publisher’s description, Palgrave Macmillan (U.S.)

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