Joan Robinson: 1903–83
The death of Joan Robinson at Cambridge on 5 August (just three months before her eightieth birthday) has deprived the world of one of the great economic theorists and radical political economists of the twentieth century. At the same time, we have suffered the loss of one of the very few women economists to have gained enormous international fame in this male-dominated profession, even though she was never awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics she so fully deserved. As Tharos Skouras observed in a recently published essay on Joan Robinson’s life and work, these two distinctions achieved during her half-century career in economics constitute also one of ‘the great scandals of the economics profession’ (Skouras 1981: 216-17). Finally, the world has lost an enthusiastic though occasionally uncritical champion of the socialist world, who argued strongly in support of a socialist road to economic development and vigorously campaigned against some of the more blatant injustices associated with capitalism, ranging from unemployment to the arms race and the Viet Nam war. Fortunately, the world has not lost her as a profound teacher of economics and political economy: the enormous legacy of her published works ensures that her influence long survives her.