Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Until the mid-twentieth century, economists did economics with words. Today, economists do economics with models. That is, they seek to combine elements of theory and evidence through mathematical formalism. The model used may be Marshallian, Walrasian, Keynesian, Cournot, behavioral, or experimental. But it is not economics today if it is not a model. Richard T. Ely's Outlines of Economics provided the framework for the new economics, while Newcomb, a laissez-faire proponent, opposed it. Ely and Newcomb's disagreement on economics launched a Methodenstreit that carried the debate between laissez-faire and new approaches into the twentieth century. In the context of the debate between old and new schools, the American Economics Association (AEA) was born. The chapter presents examples that point to the way economics and model building have become synonymous with each other, both within the discipline and by the public.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Companion to the History of American Science
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781119072218
ISBN (Print)9781405156257
StatePublished - Oct 10 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • American Economics Association
  • Economics
  • Keynesian models
  • Laissez-faire
  • Mathematical formalism
  • Twentieth century

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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