Kenneth Parsons

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Kenneth Herald Parsons (1903–1998) was a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

He joined the faculty in 1937, received his Ph.D in 1940, and retired in 1974 after a distinguished career of teaching and research. From 1931 to 1936, he worked in Washington DC with the Federal Farm Board, the Farm Credit Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. From 1940 to 1970, Parsons worked with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Marshall Plan, the Ford Foundation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development conducting research in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, with a special focus on land tenure and land reform and their economic implementations. As a UW–Madison student in 1929, Parsons was attracted by the ideas of institutional economist John R. Commons, and edited Commons' The Economics of Collective Action published in 1950 by Macmillan after Commons died in 1945. Parsons wrote "The John R. Commons' Point of View", Journal of Land & Public Utility Economics, 1942.


Parsons was one of the first U.S. agricultural economists with a professional concern and commitment to the study of economic development. He was chief economist of the Agricultural Section of the Marshall Plan in 1949–50. Parsons helped organize the World Land Tenure Conference at Madison, October, 1951. Together with Raymond Penn and Philip Raup, he edited the proceedings published as Land Tenure and Related Problems in World Agriculture, University of Wisconsin Press, 1956. He helped establish the Land Tenure Center at the University of Wisconsin in 1962 to undertake research in Latin American on land tenure and related issues in relation to agricultural development. From 1968 to 1971, Parsons was head of the Agricultural Economics Department, University of Ife, Nigeria. Parsons' responsibility was to build a department of agricultural economics, train students, and teach courses and seminars.

He was a fellow of the American Agricultural Economic Association and was awarded the Veblen-Commons Award in 1985 by the Association for Evolutionary Economics.[1]



  1. ^ Kanel, D. (1986). "The Veblen-Commons Award: Kenneth H. Parsons". Journal of Economic Issues. 20 (2): 275–279. doi:10.1080/00213624.1986.11504499. JSTOR 4225709.

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