As Johnson (1973, 1977) has pointed out, there are ‘national styles’ in economics research and teaching. In describing the development of the Swedish style of economics, I have taken the academic system in the United States as my point of reference,2 and David Davidson’s appointment to the chair in Uppsala in 1889 as the starting date. The account therefore covers one century, although the founding period actually occurred in the first decade of the 1900s when Knut Wicksell was appointed to Lund University, Gustav Cassel to Stockholm College and Eli Heckscher to the Stockholm School of Economics. Economics in Sweden has a much longer history than this, however. Chairs were established in 1741 and 1750 at Uppsala and Lund, making Sweden the country with the second oldest academic economics tradition in the world. The first chairs had been created earlier in Germany. (See Appendix B for a list of all Swedish professors of economics over the past 250 years.)
The history of Swedish economics is basically the history of its professors, or more precisely the history of the seventy to eighty people who have held chairs in economics and economic history over the past hundred years, because the professor has occupied a dominant position in the academic system.3 For this reason the account concentrates on the market for and the performance (behaviour) of professors, emphasizing various aspects which appear specific to economics in Sweden as compared to the United States. A chronological approach is adopted.