Simon Patten

Last updated
Simon N. Patten
Simon Nelson Patten.jpg
Born(1852-05-01)May 1, 1852
DiedJuly 24, 1922(1922-07-24) (aged 70)
Nationality American
Institution University of Pennsylvania
Alma mater University of Halle
Johannes Conrad
Henry Rogers Seager, Scott Nearing

Simon Nelson Patten (May 1, 1852 – July 24, 1922) was an economist and the chair of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Patten was one of the first economists to posit a shift from an 'economics of scarcity' to an 'economics of abundance'; that is, he believed that soon there would be enough wealth to satisfy people's basic needs and that the economy would shift from an emphasis on production to consumption.

University of Pennsylvania Private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university located in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Chartered in 1755, Penn is the sixth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. It is one of the nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum. The university's coat of arms features a dolphin on its red chief, adopted from Benjamin Franklin's own coat of arms.

Post-scarcity is a theoretical economic situation in which most goods can be produced in great abundance with minimal human labor needed, so that they become available to all very cheaply or even freely. Post-scarcity does not mean that scarcity has been eliminated for all goods and services, but that all people can easily have their basic survival needs met along with some significant proportion of their desires for goods and services. Writers on the topic often emphasize that some commodities will remain scarce in a post-scarcity society.


Life and work

Patten attended the University of Halle (1876–1879), where he came under the influence of Johannes Conrad, [1] a member of the German Historical school, a group of economists who believed that scholars should use their expertise to help solve modern social problems. His German experience reinforced his belief in social reform and planned change, but within an American context—that is, change and reform through voluntary action with minimal governmental control.

Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg university in the cities of Halle and Wittenberg, Germany

The Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, also referred to as MLU, is a public, research-oriented university in the cities of Halle and Wittenberg in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. MLU offers German and international (English) courses leading to academic degrees such as BA, BSc, MA, MSc, doctoral degrees and Habilitation.

Johannes Conrad German economist

Johannes Ernst Conrad was a German political economist. Johannes Conrad was a Professor of economics in Halle (Saale), Prussian Germany. He was a co-founder of the important conservative Verein für Sozialpolitik in 1872. Late in his career, in 1911, he became the director of the newly established Institute for Co-operative Studies at the University of Halle. Conrad was an expert in political economy (Nationalökonomie) and became the editor of the influential Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik in 1870.

After several years of apprenticeship teaching in primary and secondary schools, Patten in 1887 was appointed professor of economics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He held this important post until 1917, when his vigorous antiwar views got him into trouble and he was forced into premature retirement.

Over the years he published 22 books and several hundred articles, both scholarly and popular. The New Basis of Civilization (1907), an outgrowth of lectures he delivered in 1905 at the New York School of Social Work, was his most important work. It ran through eight editions between 1907 and 1923.

Patten believed that with the new technology the Earth's resources were adequate to provide an economy of abundance for the Western world; that is, there was enough wealth available so that everyone could achieve a proper diet, good basic housing and clothing, and an education that would meet the job requirements of industry. What was lacking was group social action to achieve these desired goals. Nevertheless, he was very influential on Progressive Era politicians and policy.

The Progressive Era was a period of widespread social activism and political reform across the United States that spanned from the 1890s to the 1920s. The main objectives of the Progressive movement were eliminating problems caused by industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and political corruption. The movement primarily targeted political machines and their bosses. By taking down these corrupt representatives in office, a further means of direct democracy would be established. They also sought regulation of monopolies and corporations through antitrust laws, which were seen as a way to promote equal competition for the advantage of legitimate competitors.

His thought can be juxtaposed with that of his contemporary, Thorstein Veblen.

Thorstein Veblen American academic

Thorstein Bunde Veblen was an American economist and sociologist who became famous as a witty critic of capitalism.


Related Research Articles

Economics social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services

Economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

Neoclassical economics is an approach to economics focusing on the determination of goods, outputs, and income distributions in markets through supply and demand. This determination is often mediated through a hypothesized maximization of utility by income-constrained individuals and of profits by firms facing production costs and employing available information and factors of production, in accordance with rational choice theory.

Alfred Marshall British economist

Alfred Marshall, FBA was one of the most influential economists of his time. His book, Principles of Economics (1890), was the dominant economic textbook in England for many years. It brings the ideas of supply and demand, marginal utility, and costs of production into a coherent whole. He is known as one of the founders of neoclassical economics. Although Marshall took economics to a more mathematically rigorous level, he did not want mathematics to overshadow economics and thus make economics irrelevant to the layman.

The historical school of economics was an approach to academic economics and to public administration that emerged in the 19th century in Germany, and held sway there until well into the 20th century. The professors involved compiled massive economic histories of Germany and Europe. Numerous Americans were their students. The school was opposed by theoretical economists. Prominent leaders included Gustav von Schmoller (1838–1917), and Max Weber (1864–1920) in Germany, and Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883–1950) in the United States.

Friedrich von Wieser austrian economist

Friedrich Freiherr von Wieser was an early economist of the Austrian School of economics. Born in Vienna, the son of Privy Councillor Leopold von Wieser, a high official in the war ministry, he first trained in sociology and law. In 1872, the year he took his degree, he encountered Austrian-school founder Carl Menger's Grundsätze and switched his interest to economic theory. Wieser held posts at the universities of Vienna and Prague until succeeding Menger in Vienna in 1903, where along with his brother-in-law Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk he shaped the next generation of Austrian economists including Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and Joseph Schumpeter in the late 1890s and early 20th century. He was the Austrian Minister of Commerce from August 30, 1917 to November 11, 1918.

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.

Frank Hyneman Knight was an American economist who spent most of his career at the University of Chicago, where he became one of the founders of the Chicago school. Nobel laureates Milton Friedman, George Stigler and James M. Buchanan were all students of Knight at Chicago. Ronald Coase said that Knight, without teaching him, was a major influence on his thinking. F.A. Hayek considered Knight to be one of the major figures in preserving and promoting classical liberal thought in the twentieth century. Paul Samuelson named Knight as one of the several "American saints in economics" born after 1860.

In underconsumption theory in economics, recessions and stagnation arise due to inadequate consumer demand relative to the amount produced. It means that there is an overproduction and a demand crisis. The theory formed the basis for the development of Keynesian economics and the theory of aggregate demand after the 1930s.

Steady-state economy economy made up of constant physical wealth and population size

A steady-state economy is an economy made up of a constant stock of physical wealth (capital) and a constant population size. In effect, such an economy does not grow in the course of time. The term usually refers to the national economy of a particular country, but it is also applicable to the economic system of a city, a region, or the entire world. Early in the history of economic thought, classical economist Adam Smith of the 18th century developed the concept of a stationary state of an economy: Smith believed that any national economy in the world would sooner or later settle in a final state of stationarity.

Buddhist economics spiritual and philosophical approach to the study of economics

Buddhist economics is a spiritual and philosophical approach to the study of economics. It examines the psychology of the human mind and the emotions that direct economic activity, in particular concepts such as anxiety, aspirations and self-actualization principles. In the view of its proponents, Buddhist economics aims to clear the confusion about what is harmful and what is beneficial in the range of human activities involving the production and consumption of goods and services, ultimately trying to make human beings ethically mature. The ideology's stated purpose is to "find a middle way between a purely mundane society and an immobile, conventional society."

Henry Rogers Seager United States economist

Henry Rogers Seager was an American economist, and Professor of Political Economy at Columbia University, who served as president of the American Association for Labor Legislation.

Applied economics is the application of economic theory and econometrics in specific settings. As one of the two sets of fields of economics, it is typically characterized by the application of the core, i.e. economic theory and econometrics, to address practical issues in a range of fields including demographic economics, labour economics, business economics, industrial organization, agricultural economics, development economics, education economics, engineering economics, health economics, monetary economics, public economics, and economic history. The process often involves a reduction in the level of abstraction of this core theory. There are a variety of approaches including not only empirical estimation using econometrics, input-output analysis or simulations but also case studies, historical analogy and so-called common sense or the "vernacular". This range of approaches is indicative of what Roger Backhouse and Jeff Biddle argue is the ambiguous nature of the concept of applied economics. It is a concept with multiple meanings. Among broad methodological distinctions, one source places it in neither positive nor normative economics but the art of economics, glossed as "what most economists do".

The history of economic thought deals with different thinkers and theories in the subject that became political economy and economics, from the ancient world to the present day in the 21st Century. This field encompasses many disparate schools of economic thought. Ancient Greek writers such as the philosopher Aristotle examined ideas about the art of wealth acquisition, and questioned whether property is best left in private or public hands. In the Middle Ages, scholasticists such as Thomas Aquinas argued that it was a moral obligation of businesses to sell goods at a just price

The English historical school of economics, although not nearly as famous as its German counterpart, sought a return of inductive methods in economics, following the triumph of the deductive approach of David Ricardo in the early 19th century. The school considered itself the intellectual heirs of past figures who had emphasized empiricism and induction, such as Francis Bacon and Adam Smith. Included in this school are William Whewell, Richard Jones, Thomas Edward Cliffe Leslie, Walter Bagehot, Thorold Rogers, Arnold Toynbee, William Cunningham, and William Ashley.

An economic ideology distinguishes itself from economic theory in being normative rather than just explanatory in its approach. It expresses a perspective on the way an economy should run and to what end, whereas the aim of economic theories is to create accurate explanatory models. However the two are closely interrelated as underlying economic ideology influences the methodology and theory employed in analysis. The diverse ideology and methodology of the 74 Nobel laureates in economics speaks to such interrelation.

<i>Principles of Economics</i> (Marshall) 1890 economics textbook

Principles of Economics is a leading political economy or economics textbook of Alfred Marshall (1842–1924), first published in 1890. It ran into many editions and was the standard text for generations of economics students.

Don Patinkin was an Israeli/American monetary economist, and the president of Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Throughout modern history, a variety of perspectives on capitalism have evolved based on different schools of thought.

Various definitions of economics have been proposed, including the definition of 'economics' as "what economists do".


  1. Shook, John R., ed. (2005-05-15). Dictionary Of Modern American Philosophers. p. 1877. ISBN   9781847144706.