Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

A Life among the Econ, Particularly at UCLA


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Scholars collected into a group within a university department pollinate one another and sometimes come jointly to project a certain flavor or brand of scholarship, often led by minds of singular vision and originality. A notable case of such emergence sprang from the department of economics at UCLA, starting in the 1950s, peaking in the 1960s, plateauing through much of the 1970s, in decline by the 1980s, and largely receded by the end of the 1990s. Over the decades the “core” of UCLA economics involved perhaps a dozen pre-eminent economists, but most importantly Armen Alchian. I joined the department in 1952 and spent nearly all my years since at UCLA. In this memoir I draw unreservedly on personal experience in telling of the people and events behind the emergence and eventual receding of UCLA economics.

Podcast related to this article: W. R. Allen on UCLA Economics (EJW Audio, September 2010).