Hicks; The Servant Of Applied Economics

Having made major contributions in the areas detailed above, Hicks took little part in either the debates surrounding his work or in the controversies surrounding the extensions of it by Samuelson, Arrow et al. Hicks admits that his work has deeply influenced the work of these economists and that they in turn have sharpened the analysis that he roughed out in Value and Capital but basically he remains unsympathetic to their approach, e.g. referring to his non-participation in this debate he writes 'I have felt little sympathy with the theory for theory's sake which has been characteristic of one strand in American economics; nor with the idealisation of the free market which has been character­istic of another; and I have felt little faith in the econometrics on which they have largely relied to make their contact with reality' (1979b).

In some recent correspondence with the author, Professor Hicks has elaborated on this point. He writes,' Value and Capital was published in February 1939, six months before the outbreak of war. It was much more of a success in the US than in the UK. But I was nearly cut off from what was happening in the US until 1946. When contact was re-established, I found that what had interested the Americans was the static part of my book, not the "dynamic" part, in which, even in 1939, I had been much more interested. I could not work up much interest in their refinements on the static side. [Thus], I continued, even after 1946, to work in a British milieu. Trade Cycle was inspired by Harrod's Dynamic Economics. My further work on Keynes is similarly British oriented. The one big attempt I did make to absorb what the Americans were doing was the Survey of Linear Theory (1960). It took me quite a year to write that paper, but in the end I didn't feel that it had much for me. It was still too static'

After 1950 instead of participating in the debate over Value and Capital and his other contributions Hicks, along with his wife Ursula, 'became the servant of applied economics'. Together they advised some of the emerging Commonwealth nations such as India, Jamaica and Nigeria on the economic problems they were experiencing in making the transition to independence. During this period Hicks sees a ten-year gap in his contribution to economic analysis (however, despite this 'gap' he still managed to write between 1950 and 1960 twenty articles, two new books, two revisions of his Social Framework (1942), a collection -Essays in World Economics (1959)-and four book reviews!) but around 1960 he decided to bring himself up to date and to resume his former work. It is to his recent contributions that we now turn.