Myrdal, Gunnar

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Myrdal, Gunnar

(gŭn`är mĭr`däl, Swed. mür`däl), 1898–1987, Swedish economist, sociologist, and public official; husband of Alva Myrdal. A graduate (1927) of the Univ. of Stockholm, he became lecturer (1927) and professor (1931) of economics there. His Crisis in the Population Question (1934), written with his wife, stimulated general welfare measures, which Myrdal helped to shape as a member (1933–38) of various government commissions. For the Carnegie Corp. of America he headed (1938–42) a study of race relations in America that resulted in the exhaustively detailed An American Dilemma (1944, new ed. 1962), written in collaboration with R. M. E. Sterner and Arnold Rose. It examined racial problems in the United States and concluded that they were inextricably entwined with the democratic functioning of American society. Myrdal was Swedish secretary of commerce (1945–47) and executive secretary (1947–57) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. In Rich Lands and Poor (1957) he advocated greater aid for the economic development of the poorer nations, and in Asian Drama (3 vol., 1968) he analyzed the social and economic factors affecting the governments of Asia. A foremost expert on the Swedish economy, he also wrote studies such as The Cost of Living in Sweden, 1830–1930 (1933, tr. 1933). He shared the 1974 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.


See also his Challenge of World Poverty (1970) and Against the Stream (1973).

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Myrdal, (Karl) Gunnar


Born Dec. 6, 1898, in Gustafs. Swedish economist. Professor at the Higher Commercial School in Stockholm (1933–50 and again from 1960); consultant to the Swedish government on economic questions (1933–38); minister of trade and commerce (1945–47); executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (1947–57).

Myrdal’s many works on international economic relations contain theoretical validations and practical recommendations for strengthening economic ties between the developed capitalist countries and the developing nations. He is an advocate of expansion of economic contacts with the socialist states. His books are distinguished by rich factual material and an original interpretation of vital economic and political problems. Myrdal’s views on the socioeconomic development of Third World countries are widely known in the West and are considered authoritative.

A number of Myrdal’s recent works accurately depict the difficulties that developing countries are experiencing in overcoming the economic backwardness inherited from colonialism. However, Myrdal’s evaluation of the potentials for further economic development of Third World countries is based on a denial of the noncapitalist path; this reflects the inconsistency and bourgeois narrowness of his scholarly concepts. In his works, Myrdal idealizes the bourgeois system and underestimates the fundamental contradictions between imperialist states.


Monetary Equilibrium. London, 1939.
The Political Element in the Development of Economic Theory. London, 1953.
Economic Theory and Underdeveloped Regions. London, 1957.
Beyond the Welfare State. New Haven, 1960.
Challenge to Affluence. London, 1963.
The Challenge of World Poverty: A World Antipoverty Program in Outline. New York, 1970.
Aufsätze und Reden. Frankfurt am Main, 1971.
In Russian translation:
Mirovaia ekonomika: Problemy i perspektivy. Moscow, 1958.
Sovremennye problemy “tret’ego mira.” Moscow, 1972.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.