Robert Heilbroner 101: Famous Economist and Author
Zatrun Published at November 03, 2023

In our article titled “Robert Heilbroner 101: Who is the Famous Economist and Writer?” on, we will delve into everything you need to know about the renowned economist and writer Robert Heilbroner, which our readers are curious about, in detail.

Who is Robert Heilbroner?

Robert Heilbroner was an American economist and economic historian, born on March 24, 1919, and passed away on January 4, 2005. He is recognized as the author of more than twenty books and is best known for his book “The Worldly Philosophers”, which discusses the lives and contributions of well-known economists such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes.

Heilbroner grew up in New York and graduated with honors in philosophy and economics from Harvard University in 1940. During World War II, he served in the US Army and worked at the Price Control Bureau with renowned institutional economist John Kenneth Galbraith. After the war, he briefly worked as a banker and was appointed as an assistant at the New School for Social Research in 1950. During his assistantship, he was influenced by German economist Adolf Lowe, an important representative of the German Historical School.

In 1963, Heilbroner received his doctorate from the New School for Social Research and was appointed as the Norman Thomas Professor of Economics at the same school in 1971. He worked as a faculty member for approximately twenty years.

Career and Achievements

Robert L. Heilbroner is a unique figure in the field of American economics. He is mostly regarded as a social theorist and referred to as the “worldly philosopher.” Although Heilbroner attempted to combine economics, history, and philosophy, he was not highly regarded by academic economists. However, he was elected Vice President of the American Economic Association in 1972.

Heilbroner’s most renowned work is his book “The Worldly Philosophers,” which examines the lives and contributions of famous economists such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes. The book was written in 1953 and has sold approximately 4 million copies. The seventh edition, published in 1999, predicts the rebirth of worldly philosophy, which brutally assesses the current state of the world economy and addresses the social aspects of capitalism.

Heilbroner also developed a new method for classifying economies, which includes Traditional (subsistence-based agricultural economy), Command (centralized planned economy, government-controlled), Market economy (capitalism), and Mixed economy.

Robert Heilbroner and His Ideas:

In a famous article published in The New Yorker in 1989, Robert Heilbroner argued that capitalism better regulates material relationships between people than socialism. He emphasized the superiority of free markets and stated that capitalism had won the race against socialism. He praised advocates of free market ideas, such as Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, and Ludwig von Mises. He also stressed that democratic freedoms had never emerged in any non-capitalist country.

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