Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 25 No. 1 (Winter 2011)


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Retrospectives: The Phillips Curve: A Rushed Job?

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Sleeman, A G. 2011. "Retrospectives: The Phillips Curve: A Rushed Job?" Journal of Economic Perspectives, 25(1): 223-38.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.25.1.223


Half a century ago, Economica published what its webpage claims is "the most heavily cited macroeconomics title of the 20th century"—the paper by A. W. H. "Bill" Phillips (1958) that introduced the Phillips curve. Based on admittedly circumstantial evidence, I will argue that Bill Phillips was not satisfied with the paper and had not intended to publish it in 1958. I believe that Phillips was persuaded to allow his paper to be published in 1958 by James Meade. After a brief overview of Phillips' early life and career, I attempt to show why Phillips was probably unhappy with the paper that introduced the curve that came to be identified with his name and how, nevertheless, it came to be published.

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Sleeman, A. G. (Western WA U)

JEL Classifications

B22: History of Economic Thought: Macroeconomics
B31: History of Economic Thought: Individuals
E24: Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital


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