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John Roger COMMONS


John Roger COMMONS, economist. President, American Economic Association.


COMMONS, John Roger was born in 1862 in Hollandsburg, Ohio, United States of America.


Bachelor of Arts Oberlin College, 1888.


Both a theorist and a successful maker of economic policy. His early interest in both the German historical school and marginalism was the inspiration for The Distribution of Wealth. In his later theoretical works he developed an analysis of collective action by the State, and a wide range of other institutions, which he saw as essential to understanding economic life.

This institutional theory was closely related to his remarkable successes in factfinding and drafting legislation on a wide range of social issues for the State of Wisconsin. The State became a laboratory for progressive innovations whose success later gave Commons a similar role at the federal level. Indeed, his practical work has been remembered more favourably than his theory which reached its fullest form in Institutional Economics.

He was also a major historian of American labour. Teacher Economics, Universities Wesleyan, Oberlin, Indiana and Syracuse, 1890-1899. Professor, University Wisconsin, 1904.


  • President, American Economic Association.