Gustav von Schmoller 101: Leader of the School of Economics
Zatrun Published at April 04, 2024

Gustav von Schmoller who is the Leader of the School of Economics?, we will cover in detail everything you need to know about Gustav von Schmoller, the leader of the German historical economics school that our readers are curious about.

His Life and Educational Life:

Born June 24, 1838 and died June 27, 1917, Gustav Friedrich Schmoller was one of the leading figures of the “young” German historical school of economics. He was also a prominent Social Politician or “Social Politician” and played a very important role as the founder and long-term president of the German Economic Association, known as the Verein für Socialpolitik, which still exists today. Nevertheless, Schmoller was often called a “Kathedersozialist” or a “Presidential Socialist” by his opponents.

Gustav von Schmoller rejected the socialist label and instead drew his thoughts from the heterodox liberalism represented by such diverse figures as Jérôme-Adolphe Blanqui, Jean Charles Léonard de Sismondi, John Stuart Mill, Johann Heinrich von Thünen, Bruno Hildebrand, Thomas Edward Cliffe. His ultimate goal was to reconcile the Prussian monarchy and bureaucracy with the principles of the liberal state, complemented by the best elements of parliamentarism, in order to carry out important social reforms.

Born in Heilbronn to a civil servant father, Gustav Friedrich Schmoller pursued the Kameralwissenschaft, a field combining economics, law, history and civil administration, at the University of Tübingen from 1857 to 1861. in 1861 he started working at the Statistics Department of Württemberg and later held various academic positions as a professor at the universities of Halle (1864-72), Strasbourg (1872-82) and Berlin (1882-1913). He also represented the University of Berlin in the Prussian House of Lords after 1899.

Gustav von Schmoller’s influence on academic policy as well as economic, social and financial reform in the period from 1875 to 1910 was significant. He advocated the expansion of German sea power and overseas empire, and his influence in the field of economics as an academic discipline cannot be overstated.


Gustav von Schmoller was a leading figure in the “young” school of historical economics and was known for his opposition to the axiomatic-deductive approach of classical economics and the Austrian school. He coined this term to suggest provincialism in order to criticize Carl Menger’s book Investigations into the Method of Social Sciences with Special Reference to Economics, which attacked the methods of the historical school and led to the Methodenstreit controversy.

Gustav von Schmoller’s approach was primarily inductive, emphasizing careful study, comparative analysis of economic performance, and the cultural specificity of economics. His school’s focus on the evolution of economic processes and institutions and the importance of values in shaping economic exchanges differed from the views of classical and neoclassical economists. As a result, his school fell into the mainstream of economics in the 1930s. Later, the Freiburg school took its place in Germany.

It is often forgotten that Gustav von Schmoller’s main focus during his life was not on economic methodology, but on addressing the social and economic problems caused by the rapid industrialization and urbanization of his time. He was a passionate social reformer, and his ideas had a significant impact on the Progressive movement in Europe, the United States, and social reformers in Meiji Japan. Among some of his most important students and followers outside Germany is William J. Decker. Ashley, WEB Du Bois, Richard T. Ely, Noburu Kanai, Albion W. There was Small and ERA Seligman.

Since the 1980s, Gustav von Schmoller’s work has been reevaluated and found relevant to various heterodox economic branches, such as behavioral economics, development economics, evolutionary economics, and neo-institutional economics. His influence continues to be evident within the discipline of sociology and the subfield of economic history.


Gustav von Schmoller’s work covers primarily economic history and politics and includes:

  • Der französiche Handelsvertrag und seine Gegner (The French Trade Treaty and Its Opponents, 1862)
  • Zur Geschichte der deutschen Kleingewerbe im 19. Jahrhundert (19. On the History of German Small Businesses in the Century, 1870)
  • Strassburg zur Zeit der Zunftkämpfe (Strasbourg During the Guild Struggles, 1875)
  • Zur Litteraturgeschichte der Staats- und Sozialwissenschaften (On the History of Literature in the State and Social Sciences, 1888)
  • Umrisse und Untersuchungen zur Verfassungs-, Verwaltungs- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte (Sketches and Investigations on Constitutional, Administrative and Economic History, 1898)
  • Grundriss der allgemeinen Volkswirthschaftslehre (Outlines of the General Economy, 1900-1904)
  • Ueber einige Grundfragen der Sozialpolitik (On Some Basic Questions of Social Policy, 1904)


after 1881 Gustav von Schmoller served as editor of the Jahrbuch für Gesetzgebung, Verwaltung und Volkswirtschaft im deutschen Reich. from 1878 to 1903 he was also the editor of a series of monographs called Staats- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Forschungen. Schmoller was also the editor and made important contributions to the Acta Borussica, a comprehensive collection of Prussian historical sources undertaken by the Berlin Academy of Science with the encouragement of Schmoller and Sybel.

One of the reasons why Schmoller is so unrecognized today is that most of his books and articles are untranslated, since Anglo-American economists of his time typically read German, the dominant scientific language of the period. German German texts that have not been translated have become inaccessible to readers who do not speak German. Two exceptions to this are:

The Commercial System and Its Historical Significance, New York: Macmillan, 2. pressing. 1910. This is a section from Schmoller’s much larger work Studien über die wirtschaftliche Politik Friedrichs des Grossen, published in 1884. The Chapter is by William J. It was translated by Ashley and published in English in 1897 under the above title.

  • “The Idea of Justice in Political Economy.” Annals of the American Academy of Political Science and Social Sciences (1894)
  • His own work is Grundriss der allgemeinen Volkswirtschaftslehre Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1900-1904.

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