Abram Bergson

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Abram Bergson

Abram Bergson (April 21, 1914 in New York City – April 23, 2003 in Cambridge, Massachusetts) (born Abram Burk) was an American economist.

In a 1938 paper Bergson defined and discussed the notion of an individualistic social welfare function. The paper delineated necessary marginal conditions for economic efficiency, relative to:

In so doing, it showed how welfare economics could dispense with interpersonally-comparable cardinal utility (say measured by money income), either individually or in the aggregate, with no loss of behavioral significance.

Bergson was chief of the Russian Economic subdivision of the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. After the war he taught at Columbia University and Harvard University. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1963.[1] From 1964, he was director of the Harvard Russian Research Center and became chairman of the Social Sciences Advisory Board of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

His main contribution to the study of the Soviet Union was the development and implementation of a method for the calculation of national output and economic growth in the absence of market valuation. The calculation is based on factor price. In 1960 Bergson predicted that the USSR would overtake the US economically by the 1980s.[2]

He graduated with an A.B. degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1933 and his A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard in 1935 and 1940, respectively.[3]

Literary works[edit]

  • 1938. "A Reformulation of Certain Aspects of Welfare Economics," 1938. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 52(2), pp. 310-334.
  • 1954. "On the Concept of Social Welfare," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 68(2), pp. 233-252.
  • Structure of Soviet Wages, 1944
  • Soviet National Income and Product in 1937, 1950
  • Essays in Normative Economics, 1966


  1. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  2. ^ None, Professor Predicts Soviet Union Growth Will Overtake U.S., retrieved 9 July 2021
  3. ^ Abram Bergson Dies at 89

External links[edit]