On Henry George, the Austrians, and Neoclassical Choice Theory

A New Look at the Similarities Between George and the Austrians


  • Petur O. Jonsson

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      Petur O. Jonsson is an Associate Professor of Economics at Fayetteville State University. His work has been published in International Advances in Economic Research, the Eastern Economic Journal, the Journal of Economics, the Journal of Private Enterprise, the Review of Social Economy, the Atlantic Economic Journal (forthcoming), and a number of different proceedings and anthologies. This paper benefitted from comments from Mason Gaffney, Joseph Horton, Neil De Marchi, and two anonymous referees. An early version was presented at the Congress of Political Economists meetings in San Francisco in 1996.


Abstract. Henry George and the Austrians disagreed on whether land is inherently different from other factors. Beyond this, they had much in common. The paper specifically argues that the similarities between George and the Austrians are derived from a similar underlying approach to choice. Both relied on a subjective choice framework which yields a foundation that is quite different from that of Walrasian neoclassical economics. As a result, George and the Austrians held similar views on innovation and progress. Moreover, these views are incompatible with neoclassical choice theory which is not really equipped to deal with innovation.