Erhard, Ludwig(lo͝ot`vĭkh ĕr`härt), 1897–1977, German political leader and economist. In Nuremberg he rose to be director of the institute for economic research. Dismissed (1942) by the Nazi regime, he then headed the institute for industrial research. He introduced (1948) the currency reform that paved the way for West German economic recovery. A member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), he became West German economics minister in 1949. In 1957 he was named vice chancellor, and in 1963 he succeeded Konrad Adenauer as chancellor. In late 1966, Erhard's government fell after the four Free Democratic party ministers in his cabinet resigned and left him without a ruling majority in the federal parliament. He headed the CDU in 1966–67. His writings include Prosperity through Competition (1957, tr. 1958).
Born Feb. 4, 1897, in Fürth; died May 5, 1977, in Bonn. State and political figure of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG).
An economist by profession, Erhard received his doctorate from the University of Frankfurt. From 1928 to 1942 he was first a staff member and later the director of the Institute of Economic Studies in Nuremberg. He was minister of economics of Bavaria in 1945 and 1946. In 1948 and 1949, he served as the director of the economic council for the Anglo-American occupation zone of Germany. A member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), he was elected a deputy to the Bundestag for the first time in 1949. He held the post of minister of economics of the FRG from 1949 to 1963 and that of vice-chancellor from 1957 to 1963. As federal chancellor from 1963 to 1966, Erhard for the most part continued the policies established by K. Adenauer. He served as chairman of the CDU in 1966 and 1967; he was named honorary chairman in 1967. In his role as a public figure and as a writer on economic problems, Erhard advocated the development of a social market economy.