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Gunnar Myrdal Biography

(1898–1987), Monetary Equilibrium, An American Dilemma, Asian Drama

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Mr Polly to New France

Swedish economist, born in Gustafs, Sweden, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economics (1974), and Swedish parliamentarian. As a young economist, Myrdal was a leading member of the so-called Stockholm School of Economics (which included Erik Lindahl and Dag Hammarskjöld, later Secretary-General of the United Nations), and which is sometimes seen as having anticipated certain of Keynes's ideas. His theoretical book, Monetary Equilibrium (1939, originally published in Swedish in 1931), is one of the classics produced by that group. Turning his attention to broader social analysis, Myrdal published An American Dilemma (1944, 2 volumes), an insightful but controversial indictment of race relations in the USA (the outcome of a fouryear project undertaken in that country). After serving on the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, in 1958 he embarked upon a decade of study of the problem of underdevelopment and poverty in the Third World. This led to the publication of Asian Drama (1968, 3 volumes), which remains the most systematic study of the tensions between the Western ideals of modernization and those of indigenous culture and society. He also published The Political Element in the Development of Economic Thought (1953, originally published in German in 1932).

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