JR_1.jpgLife of Joan Robinson
Joan Violet Maurice was born on October 31, 1903 in England. Joan attended the Girton College of the University of Cambridge and earned her degree in economics in 1925. In 1926, Joan Maurice married another English economist named Austin Robinson, and she became Joan Robinson. She taught at the University of Cambridge from 1931 to 1971, but because of her gender, she was not allowed to become a full professor until 1965 (Encyclopedia, 2006). After her retirement, Joan Robinson continued to teach students until her death on August 5, 1983. Robinson was survived by her daughters Ann and Barbara (Robinson, 2008).

Joan Robinson’s Imperfect Competitionjr3.jpg
Joan Robinson wrote her first major work that helped her become widely known in 1933 and titled it The Economics of Imperfect Competition. Her intention was for her analysis of imperfect competition to replace the initial practice of models being based on perfect competition. However, economists of the time did not want to adapt to this new idea because using the assumption of perfect competition allowed equilibrium to be reached. Although her work did not receive recognition at the time, it did spark some unintended results pertaining to the theory of price. First, her work helped forward the theory of price to focus on the theory of the firm rather than the markets. Her work also mistakenly created the mathematical strategies that would be commonly used by other economists who studied the theory of price and the theory of the firm (Encyclopedia, 2006). The theory of the firm is defined as a microeconomic concept established by neoclassical economists which states that firms are in existence to make decisions that will result in maximum profits (Theory 2010). Even though Robinson’s work did not replacing existing practices, it did make an impact of the economic community.

Joan Robinson as a Keynesian
Robinson abandoned her neoclassical views and became a follower of the economist John Maynard Keynes (Robinson 2008). During the 1930s, she was a member of a group referred to as the Circus (Joan, 2010). The Circus was a group of economists who supported and promoted Keynes while he developed his ideas for his 1936 work titled The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. As a result, Robinson became a lead interpreter of Keynes (Encyclopedia, 2006). An article Robinson wrote in 1954 titled “The Production Function and the Theory of Capital” attacked the neoclassical view that capital was measurable and could be aggregated. She had assistance from an economist named Piero Sraffa and together their views became the Cambridge position (Robinson, 2008). Later in her life, Robinson became an interpreter of the history of economic thought. She believed that economics was “a branch of theology and a vehicle for the ruling theology of each period” and economics was “an attempt to produce objective scientific knowledge” (Encyclopedia, 2006). The task to keep these two aspects separated is difficult and different thinking styles find different solutions. By the end of her career, Robinson had become left-wing in her political views (Robinson, 2008).

Joan Robinson never received a Nobel Prize for her work and research. However, she had many other accomplishments. In 1971, she was given the honor of presenting the Richard T. Ely Lecture to the American Economic Association. In 1980, Robinson also received an honorary doctorate from Harvard University (Encyclopedia, 2006). Different from most economists, Robinson did not have a focus on one specific area of economics. Instead, throughout her career she focused on several areas such as imperfect competition, price, and measured and aggregated capital.

“The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists” -Joan Robinson

Works Cited
“Encyclopedia of World Biography on Joan Violet Maurice Robinson.” Encyclopedia of World
Biography. 2006. <http://www.notablebiographies.com>.

“Joan Robinson Biography.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2010.
“Robinson, Joan.” New World Encyclopedia. 2008.
“Theory of he Firm.” Investopedia. 2010.