Walter Eucken

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Walter Eucken
Walter Eucken2.jpg
Born (1891-01-17)17 January 1891
Jena, Saxe-Weimar
Died 20 March 1950(1950-03-20) (aged 59)
London, UK
Nationality German
Institution University of Freiburg
Field Macroeconomics
School or tradition
Freiburg school
Alma mater University of Kiel, University of Bonn, University of Jena
Influences Edmund Husserl
Contributions Social market economy

Walter Eucken (German: [ˈɔʏkn̩]; 17 January 1891 – 20 March 1950) was a German economist and father of ordoliberalism. His name is closely linked with the development of the "social market economy".


Walter Eucken was born in Jena, in present-day Thuringia, as son of the philosopher Rudolf Eucken, who won the 1908 Nobel Prize in Literature.

At first more interested in history, Walter Eucken finally chose to study economics in Kiel, Jena and Bonn. He received his doctorate in 1914,[1] shortly before he had to serve as officer at the fronts of World War I. In 1921 in Berlin, Eucken completed additional studies and was appointed to his first professorship. In 1927 he moved to Freiburg, where he was professor of economics until his death. During the Nazi period, Eucken was associated to the resistance movement (Freiburg Bonhoeffer Circle).

He died in 1950 during a lecture series at the London School of Economics, UK.

The Walter Eucken Institut was founded four years after his death. Its president has been James M. Buchanan since 2004.


Eucken's ordoliberalism, which is the German variant of neoliberalism, claims that the state has the task to provide the political framework for economic freedom, in contrast to laissez-faire. This includes a legal and institutional framework, including maintenance of private property, enforcement of private contracts, liability, free entry, and monetary stabilization. In this, the state should refrain from directing or intervening in the economic processes of daily practices, as in a centrally planned economy (Molsberger, 2008).

The idea of ordoliberalism was introduced for the first time in 1937 in Ordnung der Wirtschaft, a periodical published by Walter Eucken, Franz Böhm and Hans Großmann-Doerth. From 1948 on it was further developed in the journal ORDO.


  1. ^ Kuhnert, Stephen (2006). "The Man Who Heated Up Economic Discussion with a Stove: Walter Eucken's Challenge to the Social Sciences" (PDF). p. 2 (p. 112).  in Sproule-Jones, Mark; Allen, Barbara and Sabettis, Filippo, ed. (2008). The Struggle to Constitute and Sustain Productive Orders: Vincent Ostrom's quest to understand human affairs. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. pp. 111–124. ISBN 978-0-7391-2627-1. 


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