Profile Major Works Resources

Paul Howard Douglas, 1892-1976.

Portrait of P.H.Douglas

Massachusetts native Paul H. Douglas studied at Columbia University under John Bates Clark and Henry L. Moore.  After completing his coursework c.1915, Douglas roamed around for a bit without a clear dissertation project.  He took up a variety of teaching positions, notably at Illinois, Reed College, Washington before finally landing a job in 1920 at the University of Chicago.  Douglas finally acquired his Ph.D from Columbia in 1921. 

In 1923, Douglas spearheaded the (failed) attempt to get Thorstein Veblen elected to the presidency of the A.E.A.  In 1926, he launched another (failed) attempt to honor Veblen with a festschrift.

Paul H. Douglas's primary quest was on the statistical testing of marginal productivity theory of distribution.  Douglas's attempt to estimate production functions led to his formulation, in 1928 ( together with the mathematician Charles W. Cobb) of the now famous "Cobb-Douglas Production Function".  His analysis of the modern Neoclassical theory of production and distribution is best expressed in his magnum opus, Theory of Wages (1934).  Douglas and his students undertook massive statistical examinations of the issue.

Douglas left Chicago in 1942 to enlist as a private in the United States Marine Corps.  In 1948, Douglas was elected to the United States Senate for the state of Illinois.  He became one of the leading and most respected Democratic Senators.  He lost a re-election campaign in 1966, after which he to ok a position at the New School for Social Research.



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Major works of Paul H. Douglas

  • "The Problem of Labor Turnover", 1918, AER - "Rejoinder", 1920
  • "The Movement of Real Wages, 1890-1918", with Frances Lamberson, 1921, AER
  • "What can a Man Afford?" with Dorothy Douglas, 1921, AER
  • "A Theory of Production", with C.W. Cobb 1928, AER
  • Real Wages in the United States, 1930.
  • The Theory of Wages, 1934.
  • "The Theory of Marginal Productivity Tested by Data for Manufacturing in Victoria", with M.L. Handsaker,1937-8, QJE
  • "Wage Theory and Wage Policy", 1939, ILR
  • "Further Measurements of Marginal Productivity", with G. Gunn, 1940, QJE
  • "Are there Laws of Production?", 1938, AER.
  • Ethics in Government, 1952.
  • "The Cobb-Douglas Production Function Once Again: Its history, its testing and
    some empirical values", 1967, JPE
  • "Comments on the Cobb-Douglas Production Function", 1967, in Brown, editor, Theory of Empirical Analysis of Production.
  • In the Fullness of Time, 1971
  • "The Cobb-Douglas Production Function Once Again: Its history, its testing and some empirical values", 1976, JPE.



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Resources on Paul H. Douglas


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