Frank Hahn
Born(1925-04-26)26 April 1925
Berlin, Germany
Died29 January 2013(2013-01-29) (aged 87)
Cambridge, England
InstitutionsUniversity of Birmingham
Cambridge University
London School of Economics
Alma materLondon School of Economics
Nicholas Kaldor
Lionel Robbins
Edwin Mills
Stephen Nickell
Anthony Shorrocks
ContributionsGeneral equilibrium theory, monetarism, monetary theory, Keynesian economics, "Hahn's problem"
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Frank Horace Hahn FBA (26 April 1925 – 29 January 2013) was a British economist whose work focused on general equilibrium theory, monetary theory, Keynesian economics and monetarism.[1][2] A famous problem of economic theory, the conditions under which money (which is intrinsically worthless) can have a positive value in a general equilibrium, is called "Hahn's problem" after him.


Early life and education

Frank Hahn was born on 26 April 1925 in Berlin to Czech parents. His father was a chemist by profession and a writer. The family moved to Prague in 1931 and left for England in 1938. He and his brother were educated at Bournemouth School from when he was 13, a school for which he retained an abiding enthusiasm. He became a navigator in the RAF in the Second World War, then resumed his interrupted higher education, not reading Mathematics at Balliol College, Oxford, but instead reading Economics at the London School of Economics. He married Dorothy Salter, also an economist, in 1946, and obtained a lectureship at Birmingham in 1948.[3]

Frank Hahn took his doctoral degree in 1951 at the London School of Economics (LSE) for the thesis The share of wages: an enquiry into the theory of distribution, where he was supervised initially by Nicholas Kaldor and later by Lionel Robbins.[4] As a student, he had been part of the Hayek–Robbins seminar at LSE, and he once said his wife had been an original member of the Mont Pelerin Society.[5]


Hahn began his teaching career in 1948 at the University of Birmingham, where he was subsequently elected reader in mathematical economics. In 1960 he joined the University of Cambridge—as a fellow of Churchill College and as university lecturer in economics.[6]

In 1967 he moved to the London School of Economics, where he received his first professorship. He returned to Cambridge as professor of economics five years later. His inaugural lecture "On the notion of equilibrium in economics" was delivered on 28 February 1973. He remained professor of economics at Cambridge until his retirement in 1992, though he made near-annual visits to the US, especially as visiting professor at Harvard University, the MIT, and the University of California, Berkeley, as well as to Stanford's Institute of Mathematical Studies in the Social Sciences.[6] From 1990 to 1996 Hahn directed the PhD program of the Economics Department at the University of Siena. He eventually became emeritus professor at Cambridge.[4]

Famous letter

He gained widespread recognition and attention in 1981 as the co-instigator of a letter to The Times signed by 364 of Britain's best-known economists, questioning Margaret Thatcher's economic policy, with a warning that it would only result in deepening the prevailing depression.

Influence and leanings

Frank Hahn, by his own admission, was influenced in economics by John Hicks, W. M. Gorman, Takashi Negishi and Kenneth Arrow among others. He in turn influenced a large number of colleagues and students.[3]


He died in Cambridge on 29 January 2013, following a short illness.[2] He is survived by his wife Dorothy, née Salter, whom he had married in 1946.

Major works


  1. ^ Enciclopedia italiana di scienze, lettere ed arti, Volume 2, 1938, p. 548.
  2. ^ a b "Professor Frank Hahn: 1925 – 2013/". Churchill College, Cambridge. January 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b From a Draft dated 1988. A slightly revised version was published with the title "Autobiographical Notes with Reflections," in Eminent Economists: their Life Philosophies, edited by Michael Szenberg, Cambridge University Press, 1992.
  4. ^ a b Marcello Basili and Carlo Zappia (2005). "An interview with Frank Hahn on the occasion of his 80th birthday" (PDF). Storia del Pensiero Economico. 2 (2): 13–18. ISSN 1828-1990. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 October 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  5. ^ F. A. Hayek acknowledged the help of "Miss Dorothy Salter (now Mrs. F. H. Hahn)" in his Introduction to J. S. Mill's Letters.
  6. ^ a b "Professor Frank Hahn MA, PhD, FBA". Churchill College, Cambridge. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  7. ^ Frank Hahn (December 1984). Money and Inflation. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-58062-5.