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Verena Halsmayer

Studies of economics and history in Vienna, Copenhagen and Barcelona; stays abroad: Center for the History of Political Economy, Duke University, Center for the Philosophy of Natural and Social Sciences, London School of Economics; research interests include: history, philosophy and social studies of economic research practices, historical epistemology, history of economic governance.

Research Project: Modeling, Measuring and Designing “Modern Economic Growth”: The Construction, Manipulation and Circulation of the Neoclassical Growth Model

In 1956 Robert M. Solow published “A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth.” In my dissertation project I develop a series of historical case studies that describe research episodes from the construction, manipulation and circulation of what soon became “the” neoclassical growth model. Building on archival material, published, and unpublished work, each episode consists of a specific working object, the associated research practices and enabling conditions. In this way, the project takes account of the model’s different ingredients (e.g. measurements of productivity growth by the NBER, input-output data as created by the Harvard Economic Research Project, linear and dynamic programming models), its various formulations, and the numerous projects it fed into (e.g. serving as an instrument for measuring economic growth, as a teaching device for mathematical modeling, as a prototype and benchmark for economic planning models).


Based on these case studies I seek to address two sets of questions: If we look at data sets, models and measurements as products of contingent research practices, what kind of knowledge is created by the construction and manipulation of these artifacts? Taking the multifarious interconnections between modeling, measuring and economic governance seriously, in which ways can we talk about the co-production of “modern economic growth” by smoothly working dynamic equilibrium models?




Halsmayer, V. (2014) “From Long-Run Utopia to Technical Expertise: Solow’s Growth Model as a Multi-Purpose Design.” in: E. Roy Weintraub (ed.) MIT and the Transformation of American Economics. History of Political Economy 46 (supplement). (accepted paper)

Halsmayer, V. (2014) Review of Mary S. Morgan, The World in the Model: How Economists Work and Think. Journal of the History of Economic Thought 36/3. (accepted) 

Halsmayer, V. (2013) “Der Ökonom als 'engineer in the design sense' – Modellierungspraxis und professionelles Selbstverständnis in Robert Solows 'Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth'.” in: Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte 36, 245-259. 

Halsmayer, V. (2012) “Ökonomische Modelle und Brüchige Welten. Joseph Vogls Das Gespenst des Kapitals.” in: Hanno Pahl and Jan Sparsam (eds.) Wirtschaftswissenschaft als Oikodizee? Diskussionen im Anschluss an Joseph Vogls Gespenst des Kapitals. Wiesbaden: VS Springer, 2012 (with Florian Huber), 27-52.  

 “Solow’s Harrod: Transforming Cyclical Dynamics into a Model of Long-run Growth.” CHOPE Working Paper 2012/01 (with Kevin D. Hoover). (in progress)



DK Program The Sciences in Historical, Philosophical and Cultural Contexts
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