Orris C. Herfindahl

Last updated

Orris Clemens Herfindahl (June 15, 1918 in Parshall, North Dakota - December 16, 1972 while traveling in Nepal [1] ) was an economist who studied natural resources. However, he is mainly known as the inventor of a concentration index (the Herfindahl index) which he proposed in his 1950 doctoral dissertation on the steel industry while at Columbia University. [2] [3] [4] In fact a similar index (with the addition of a square root) was proposed earlier (in 1945) by Albert O. Hirschman. [5] Thus, it is usually referred to as the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index.


Related Research Articles

In economics, a free market is a system in which the prices for goods and services are self-regulated by the open market and by consumers. In a free market, the laws and forces of supply and demand are free from any intervention by a government or other authority, and from all forms of economic privilege, monopolies and artificial scarcities. Proponents of the concept of free market contrast it with a regulated market in which a government intervenes in supply and demand through various methods such as tariffs used to restrict trade and to protect the local economy. In an idealized free-market economy, prices for goods and services are set freely by the forces of supply and demand and are allowed to reach their point of equilibrium without intervention by government policy.

In economics, imperfect competition refers to a situation where the characteristics of an economic market do not fulfil all the necessary conditions of a perfectly competitive market, resulting in market failure.

The Herfindahl index is a measure of the size of firms in relation to the industry and an indicator of the amount of competition among them. Named after economists Orris C. Herfindahl and Albert O. Hirschman, it is an economic concept widely applied in competition law, antitrust and also technology management. It is defined as the sum of the squares of the market shares of the firms within the industry, where the market shares are expressed as fractions. The result is proportional to the average market share, weighted by market share. As such, it can range from 0 to 1.0, moving from a huge number of very small firms to a single monopolistic producer. Increases in the Herfindahl index generally indicate a decrease in competition and an increase of market power, whereas decreases indicate the opposite. Alternatively, if whole percentages are used, the index ranges from 0 to 10,000 "points". For example, an index of .25 is the same as 2,500 points.

In economics, economic rent is any payment [in the context of a market transaction] to an owner or factor of production in excess of the costs needed to bring that factor into production. In classical economics, economic rent is any payment made or benefit received for non-produced inputs such as location (land) and for assets formed by creating official privilege over natural opportunities. In the moral economy of neoclassical economics, economic rent includes income gained by labor or state beneficiaries of other "contrived" exclusivity, such as labor guilds and unofficial corruption.

Classical economics or classical political economy is a school of thought in economics that flourished, primarily in Britain, in the late 18th and early-to-mid 19th century. Its main thinkers are held to be Adam Smith, Jean-Baptiste Say, David Ricardo, Thomas Robert Malthus, and John Stuart Mill. These economists produced a theory of market economies as largely self-regulating systems, governed by natural laws of production and exchange.

Julian Simon

Julian Lincoln Simon was an American professor of business administration at the University of Maryland and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute at the time of his death, after previously serving as a longtime economics and business professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Agricultural economics is an applied field of economics concerned with the application of economic theory in optimizing the production and distribution of food and fiber. Agricultural economics began as a branch of economics that specifically dealt with land usage, it focused on maximizing the crop yield while maintaining a good soil ecosystem. Throughout the 20th century the discipline expanded and the current scope of the discipline is much broader. Agricultural economics today includes a variety of applied areas, having considerable overlap with conventional economics. Agricultural economists have made substantial contributions to research in economics, econometrics, development economics, and environmental economics. Agricultural economics influences food policy, agricultural policy, and environmental policy.

In economics and particularly in industrial organization, market power is the ability of a firm to profitably raise the market price of a good or service over marginal cost. In perfectly competitive markets, market participants have no market power. A firm with total market power can raise prices without losing any customers to competitors. Market participants that have market power are therefore sometimes referred to as "price makers" or "price setters", while those without are sometimes called "price takers". Significant market power occurs when prices exceed marginal cost and long run average cost, so the firm makes economic profit.

Albert O. Hirschman

Albert Otto Hirschman was an economist and the author of several books on political economy and political ideology. His first major contribution was in the area of development economics. Here he emphasized the need for unbalanced growth. He argued that disequilibria should be encouraged to stimulate growth and help mobilize resources, because developing countries are short of decision making skills. Key to this was encouraging industries with many linkages to other firms.

Market structure

Market Structure in economics, depicts how firms are differentiated and categorised based on types of goods they sell (homogeneous/heterogeneous) and how their operations are affected by external factors and elements. Market structure makes it easier to understand the characteristics of diverse markets.

A diversity index is a quantitative measure that reflects how many different types there are in a dataset and that can simultaneously take into account the phylogenetic relations among the individuals distributed among those types, such as richness, divergence or evenness. These indices are statistical representations of biodiversity in different aspects.

Competition (economics) Rivalry between firms; ability of companies to take each others market share in a given market

In economics, competition is a scenario where different economic firms are in contention to obtain goods that are limited by varying the elements of the marketing mix: price, product, promotion and place. In classical economic thought, competition causes commercial firms to develop new products, services and technologies, which would give consumers greater selection and better products. The greater the selection of a good is in the market, prices are typically lower for the products, compared to what the price would be if there was no competition (monopoly) or little competition (oligopoly). This is because there is now no rivalry between firms to obtain the product as there is enough for everyone. The level of competition that exists within the market is dependant on a variety of factors both on the firm/ seller side; the number of firms, barriers to entry, information availability, availability/ accessibility of resources. The number of buyers within the market also factors into competition with each buyer having a willingness to pay, influencing overall demand for the product in the market.

John Maurice Clark

John Maurice Clark (1884–1963) was an American economist whose work combined the rigor of traditional economic analysis with an "institutionalist" attitude. Clark was a pioneer in developing the notion of workable competition and the theoretical basis of modern Keynesian economics, including the concept of the economic multiplier.

The Anaconda Copper Mining Company, part of the Amalgamated Copper Company from 1899 to 1915, was an American mining company. It was one of the largest trusts of the early 20th century and one of the largest mining companies in the world for much of the 20th century.

The varied difficulties experienced by the copper industry after the depths of the Great Depression were followed by the idea of getting relief through some form of collective action in order to reduce the intensity of competition. In this way on March, 28th, 1935, the International Copper Cartel (ICC) was formed. There were five members in the cartel and two friendly foreign observers. The voting members were: Anaconda Copper, Kennecott Copper, Roan Antelope Copper, Rhokana Corporation and the Union Minière du Haut-Katanga, while the non voting members were Bor (Yugoslavia) and Rio Tinto (Spain). Combined, these seven companies accounted for more than half of the global output of refined copper at that time. The main difference between this and the previous copper cartels is that the ICC members did not attempt to set uniform prices. Rather, they merely wanted to influence prices indirectly, smoothing out wide price fluctuations. Despite the immense profits earned by the ICC's members in the following decades, the ICC was never reproached for charging exorbitant prices, as opposed to what happened in the case of previous cartels. Indeed, in Herfindahl’s opinion the cartel did not have any significant effect on price. These are born out in USGS annual price data showing the annual average price of copper in US Dollar per pound, if one adjusts for the US Consumer Price Index.

Martin Lawrence "Marty" Weitzman was an economist and a Professor of Economics at Harvard University. He was among the most influential economists in the world according to Research Papers in Economics (RePEc). His latest research was largely focused on environmental economics, specifically climate change and the economics of catastrophes.

National champions are corporations which are technically private businesses but due to governmental policy are ceded a dominant position in a national economy. In this system, these large organizations are expected not only to seek profit but also to "advance the interests of the nation"; the government sets policies which favor these organizations. The policy is practiced by many governments, in some sectors more than others, but by giving an unfair advantage against market competition, the policy promotes economic nationalism domestically and global pre-eminence abroad contrary to the free market. The policy also deters or prevents venture capitalism.

The El Paso and Southwestern Railroad began in 1888 as the Arizona and South Eastern Railroad, a short line serving copper mines in southern Arizona. Over the next few decades, it grew into a 1200-mile system that stretched from Tucumcari, New Mexico southward to El Paso, Texas, and westward to Tucson, Arizona, with several branch lines, including one to Nacozari, Mexico. The railroad was bought by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1924 and fully merged into its parent company in 1955. The EP&SW was a major link in the transcontinental route of the Golden State Limited.

The following is a list of international rankings of  Greece.

Allan Victor Kneese was a pioneer in what came to be called environmental economics. He worked at Resources for the Future from 1961 onwards. He earned a master's degree from the University of Colorado, and a Ph.D. in 1956 from Indiana University.


  1. "Herfindahl, Orris Clemens". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2015-04-06. b. June 15, 1918, in Parshall, N.D.; d. Dec. 16, 1972; ... traveling in Nepal when he died
  2. Orris C Herfindahl (1950). Concentration in the steel industry. Dissertation: Columbia University. OCLC   5732189.
  3. Robert D. Hershey Jr. (1984-02-12). "Statistical Formula Used". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-04-06. The index is named for Orris C. Herfindahl, who employed such analysis in a 1950 doctoral dissertation on the steel industry while at Columbia University,
  4. Julio Segura; Carlos Rodríguez Braun (2004-01-01). An Eponymous Dictionary of Economics: A Guide to Laws and Theorems Named After Economists. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 111. ISBN   978-1-84542-360-5. Well, it's a cruel world
  5. Albert O. Hirschman (1980-01-01). National Power and the Structure of Foreign Trade . University of California Press. p.  19. ISBN   978-0-520-04082-3. ...there was a posterior inventor, O. C. Herfindahl, who proposed the same index, except for the square root...
  6. Orris Clemens Herfindahl; Allen V. Kneese (1974). Economic theory of natural resources. Merrill. ISBN   978-0-675-08895-4.
  7. Orris Clemens Herfindahl (1969). Natural Resources Information for Economic Development. Resources for the Future: Latin American Institute for Economic and Social Planning.
  8. Orris Clemens Herfindahl (1959). Copper Costs and Prices: 1870-1957. Johns Hopkins Press.
  9. Saefong, Myra P. (2013-03-22). "Here's why copper has lost its indicator role". MarketWatch. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  10. Buttonwood (2013-04-20). "Like chess, only without the dice". The Economist. Retrieved 2015-04-06. Copper, often seen as a bellwether of global activity,
  11. Kortheuer, Dennis (2002-01-15). "The French Have Landed on the Shores of Santa Rosalía, or, How the Second Industrial Revolution, Porfirian "Progress" and the Rothschilds Brought Baja California Sur into the "Modern" World". University of California, Riverside. Retrieved 2015-04-06. Orris C. Herfindahl, in his study of copper costs and prices, argues that the price of copper relative to wholesale prices of other goods has been stable over the longer periods between 1870 and 1957.