The Essential UCLA School of Economics (Essential Scholars)

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· Essential Scholars Book 11 · Fraser Institute · Narrated by Michael Lenz
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The UCLA tradition carries on in the work of dozens of economists who earned their PhDs at UCLA during its golden years. Because their work spread beyond UCLA, the tradition lives on in the work of scores of economists who had no formal connection with the School. The most important economists at UCLA during the 1970s were Armen Alchian, Harold Demsetz, Sam Peltzman, Benjamin Klein, Robert Clower, Alex Leijonhufvud, Jack Hirshleifer, William Allen, and George Hilton.

A distinguishing feature of most of the UCLA economists’ contributions is that they were non-mathematical. This was especially notable in an era in which mathematics had almost taken over economics. The major UCLA School contributors used mainly words and occasionally graphs. Another distinguishing feature is their use of basic economic analysis to understand behaviour that had previously not been understood or had even been misunderstood.

The best-known member of the School, Armen Alchian, taught at UCLA from 1946 until his retirement in 1984. His insights and writings underlie a distinctive theme of the School’s approach to economics: in most productive activity, the profit motive, combined with private property rights, successfully aligns the interests of producers and consumers, often in subtle ways. Alchian had no use for formal models that did not teach us to look somewhere new in the known world. Nor had he any patience for findings that relied on fancy statistical procedures. Alchian saw basic economics as a powerful tool for explaining much of human behaviour in both market and non-market settings.

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