Swedish economist, sociologist, and politician. The Political Element in the Development of Economic Theory (1953), originally published in Swedish in 1930, and Monetary Equilibrium (1939), originally published in German in 1933, are classics in the economic literature and would alone account for his Nobel Prize for Economics (shared with Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek) in 1974. An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (1964) is a classic of sociology. Asian Drama: an Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations (1968) is a three-volume study combining economics, sociology, and political science.
His Political Element in the Development of Economic Theory revealed a concern with the intrusion of value judgements into what appeared on the surface to be purely objective analysis, a theme that was to run through all his later writings. Monetary Equilibrium was almost the first book in economics to introduce a systematic discussion of expectations into the analysis of price formation, and its contrast between ex ante and ex post, or planned and realized values, has since become a standard feature of macroeconomic theory. After a short spell at the University of Geneva in 1931–32, Myrdal was appointed to a professorship at the University of Stockholm in 1933.
Myrdal was born into a farming community in Sweden, attended the University of Stockholm, where he studied economics and took his PhD degree in 1927. After a few years of further study in the USA, he returned to Sweden, married Alva Myrdal (who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982), and threw himself into political activity.
He has been a senator in the Swedish parliament on two occasions (1934–36, 1942–46), the Swedish ambassador to India (1939–42), a minister for trade and commerce (1945–47), a chair of the Swedish Planning Commission (1945–47), and the executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (1947–57).
Works include An International Economy: Problems and Prospects (1956), Economic Theory and Under-Developed Regions (1957), Beyond the Welfare State (1960), Challenge to Affluence (1965), Objectivity in Social Research (1969), The Challenge of World Poverty: A World Anti-Poverty Program in Outline (1970), Against the Stream: Critical Essays on Economics (1973), and Essays and Lectures After 1973 (1979).