Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Research Papers in Economics,
Stockholm University, Department of Economics

No 2003:8: Combining Keynes and Schumpeter. Ingvar Svennilson's Contribution to the Swedish Growth School and Modern Economics

Lennart Erixon ()
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Lennart Erixon: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University, Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: In a study of European growth in the interwar period, the Swedish economist Ingvar Svennilson integrated a Keynesian theory of cumulative growth with a Schumpeterian analysis of economic transformation. Svennilson emphasised that innovations and the use of new technologies had been stimulated by high demand and production growth. Svennilson’s strong commitment to "Vendoorn's Law" which actually was "Svennilson's Law", made it difficult to incorporate him in a Schumpeterian tradition. A synthesis between Keynes and Schumpeter with Svennilson as a mediator was also prevented by the decisive role of entrepreneurship and the critique of Keynesian models in works by Schumpeter and the Swedish growth school. However, a synthesis has been facilitated by neo-Schumpeterian theories of demand-led innovations and cumulative economic processes. Svennilson’s study has been superseded by later contributions to economics except for a theory of a negative, "Keynesian", relationship between unemployment and growth and an exceptional "un-Verdoornian" theory that high aggregate demand may lead to crowding-out of new firms from capital markets. Besides, Svennilson's integration of short run and long run macro analysis and of theoretical and empirical work is still a fruitful research strategy in economics.

Keywords: Innovations; Cumulative Growth; Productivity Growth; Verdoorn’s Law; Swedish Growth School

JEL-codes: B25; E11; E32; N14; O11; O14; O31

35 pages, July 22, 2003

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