Knight, Frank Hyneman

Knight, Frank Hyneman,

1885–1972, American economist, b. McLean County, Ill., Ph.D. Cornell, 1916. He taught economics at the Univ. of Chicago (1927–62). Knight's most influential work was his first book, Risk, Uncertainty and Profit (1921), in which he described the relationship between profits and risk in a free market economy. He distinguished insurable risk from uninsurable risk, contending that the latter produced profits. His methodology was the foundation of the Chicago school of economics, which held that competition in a free market economy was the best method for achieving economic health.

Knight, Frank Hyneman


Born Nov. 7, 1885, near McLean, 111.; died Apr. 15, 1972, in Chicago. American economist.

Knight was educated at the University of Tennessee and Cornell University. In 1919 he became an instructor at the University of Iowa and from 1928 until his retirement taught at the University of Chicago. Knight looked upon economic theory as a science that uses analysis of economic behavior by producers and consumers to derive general propositions about the principles underlying the economic system. Knight believed that exchange determines production. An ardent apologist of capitalism, Knight thought that the entrepreneur plays an important dynamic role in production. He considered the workers’ demands for higher pay to be unjustified interference in a faultless market mechanism.


The Ethics of Competition. [London] 1935.
The Economic Organization. New York, 1951.
Essays on the History and Method of Economics. [Chicago, 1956.]
Risk, Uncertainty and Profit. New York, 1957.
Intelligence and Democratic Action. Cambridge, Mass., 1960.

Knight, Frank Hyneman

(1885–1972) economist; born in McLean County, Ill. His book, Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit, remains a classic that accounts for profits under perfect competition and distinguishes risk from uncertainty. He spent many years on the faculty of the University of Chicago (1927–55).
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