Mitchell, Wesley Clair

Mitchell, Wesley Clair

Mitchell, Wesley Clair, 1874–1948, American economist, b. Rushville, Ill. He received his Ph.D. (1899) from the Univ. of Chicago, where he studied under Thorstein Veblen and John Dewey, and he taught at several institutions, including the Univ. of California, Columbia, and the New School for Social Research. He also served on many government committees, was chairman of the President's Committee on Social Trends (1929–33), and helped found the National Bureau of Economic Research. One of the most eminent American economists, Mitchell questioned many of the tenets of orthodox economics and turned toward an institutional analysis based on behaviorist psychology. His chief researches were centered on investigation, often statistical, of the business cycle; his Business Cycles (1913, 2d ed. 1927) is his most important work. His other books include A History of the Greenbacks (1903), The Backward Art of Spending Money (1937), and Measuring Business Cycles (with A. F. Burns, 1946).


See biography (ed. by A. F. Burns, 1952).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mitchell, Wesley Clair


Born Aug. 5, 1874, in Rushville, 111.; died Oct. 29, 1948, in New York. American economist and statistician, a representative of the Harvard school in economics.

Mitchell studied at the University of Chicago and became a professor at the University of California (1909–12) and at Columbia University (1914–19, 1922-24). From 1920 until 1945 he headed the National Bureau for Economic Research.

Mitchell attempted to use statistics to prove the theses of institutionalism. His work was characterized by a descriptive-statistical method, an empirical approach to economic processes, and a disregard for the objective economic laws of capitalism. Mitchell is known for his research on economic cycles. He attempted to prove the possibility of noncrisis development of the capitalist economic system. After the economic crisis of 1929–33, Mitchell became one of the theoreticians of “regulated capitalism.”


Business Cycles: The Problem and Its Setting. New York, 1927.
What Happens During Business Cycles. New York, 1951.
Types of Economic Theory: From Mercantilism to Institutionalism, vols. 1–2. New York, 1967–69.


Al’ter, L. B. Burzhuaznaia politicheskaia ekonomiia SShA. Moscow, 1971. Chapter 9.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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