Friedrich Hayek


Friedrich Hayek : biography

8 May 1899 – 23 March 1992
I was 25 years old and pursuing my doctorate in economics when I was allowed to spend six months of post-graduate studies in Naples, Italy. I read the Western economic textbooks and also the more general work of people like Hayek. By the time I returned to Czechoslovakia, I had an understanding of the principles of the market. In 1968, I was glad at the political liberalism of the Dubcek Prague Spring, but was very critical of the Third Way they pursued in economics.Vaclav Klaus, “No Third Way Out: Creating a Capitalist Czechoslovakia”, Reason, 1990, (June): 28–31.

—Václav Klaus (former President of the Czech Republic)


In 1980, Hayek, a non-practicing Roman Catholic, was one of twelve Nobel laureates to meet with Pope John Paul II, "to dialogue, discuss views in their fields, communicate regarding the relationship between Catholicism and science, and ‘bring to the Pontiff’s attention the problems which the Nobel Prize Winners, in their respective fields of study, consider to be the most urgent for contemporary man’".Ebenstein, p. 301.

In 1984, he was appointed as a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom on the advice of the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for his "services to the study of economics".Alan O. Ebenstein. (2003) Friedrich Hayek: A biography. p.305. University of Chicago Press, 2003 Hayek had hoped to receive a baronetcy, and after he was awarded the CH he sent a letter to his friends requesting that he be called the English version of Friedrich (Frederick) from now on. After his 20 min audience with the Queen, he was "absolutely besotted" with her according to his daughter-in-law, Esca Hayek. Hayek said a year later that he was "amazed by her. That ease and skill, as if she’d known me all my life." The audience with the Queen was followed by a dinner with family and friends at the Institute of Economic Affairs. When, later that evening, Hayek was dropped off at the Reform Club, he commented: "I’ve just had the happiest day of my life."Ebenstein, p. 305.

In 1991, US President George H. W. Bush awarded Hayek the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the two highest civilian awards in the United States, for a "lifetime of looking beyond the horizon". Hayek died in 1992 in Freiburg, Germany, and was buried in the Neustift am Wald cemetery in the northern outskirts of Vienna.Ebenstein, p. 317. In 2011, his article The Use of Knowledge in Society was selected as one of the top 20 articles published in the American Economic Review during its first 100 years.

The New York University Journal of Law and Liberty holds an annual lecture in his honor.

Influence and recognition

Hayek’s influence on the development of economics is widely acknowledged. Hayek is the second-most frequently cited economist (after Kenneth Arrow) in the Nobel lectures of the prize winners in economics, particularly since his lecture was critical of the field of orthodox economics and neo-classical modelization. A number of Nobel Laureates in economics, such as Vernon Smith and Herbert A. Simon, recognize Hayek as the greatest modern economist. Another Nobel winner, Paul Samuelson, believed that Hayek was worthy of his award but nevertheless claimed that "there were good historical reasons for fading memories of Hayek within the mainstream last half of the twentieth century economist fraternity. In 1931, Hayek’s Prices and Production had enjoyed an ultra-short Byronic success. In retrospect hindsight tells us that its mumbo-jumbo about the period of production grossly misdiagnosed the macroeconomics of the 1927–1931 (and the 1931–2007) historical scene". Despite this comment, Samuelson spent the last 50 years of his life obsessed with the problems of capital theory identified by Hayek and Böhm-Bawerk, and Samuelson flatly judged Hayek to have been right and his own teacher, Joseph Schumpeter, to have been wrong on the central economic question of the 20th century, the feasibility of socialist economic planning in a production goods dominated economy.The collected scientific papers of Paul A. Samuelson, Volume 5, p. 315.