Alvin Hansen

Alvin Hansen

Economist
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Alvin Hansen

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Alvin Harvey Hansen (August 23, 1887 – June 6, 1975), once referred to as "the American Keynes" was a professor of economics at Harvard, a widely read author on current economic issues, and an influential advisor to the government who helped create the Council of Economic Advisors and the Social security system. He is best known for introducing Keynesian economics in the United States in the 1930s. More effectively than anyone else, he explicated, extended, domesticated, and popularized the controversial ideas embodied in Keynes' The General Theory, and promoted it to his many graduate students at Harvard. In 1967, Paul McCracken, chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, saluted Hansen: "It is certainly a statement of fact that you have influenced the nation's thinking about economic policy more profoundly than any other economist in this century."

Early years and education

Hansen was born to Danish immigrant parents at Viborg, South Dakota on the South Dakota frontier. After an English degree at Yankton College, he took his PhD in economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1918. He worked with institutionalists John R. Commons and Richard T. Ely, but did not adopt their approach. He then taught at the University of Minnesota, specializing in business cycles. He consulted frequently in Washington, and helped Edwin E. Witte, to help draft the Social Security Act of......
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