Tony Thirlwall

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Tony Thirlwall
Tony Thirlwall.tif
Tony Thirlwall portrait
Anthony Philip Thirlwall

(1941-04-21) April 21, 1941 (age 81)
InstitutionsUniversity of Kent
University of Leeds
Alma materCambridge University
Clark University
University of Leeds
ContributionsNew economic geography
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Anthony Philip Thirlwall (born 1941) is Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Kent. He has made major contributions to regional economics; the analysis of unemployment and inflation; balance of payments theory, and to growth and development economics with particular reference to developing countries. He is the author of the bestselling textbook Economics of Development: Theory and Evidence (Palgrave Macmillan) now in its ninth edition. He is also the biographer and literary executor of the famous Cambridge economist Nicholas Kaldor. Perhaps his most notable contribution has been to show that if long-run balance of payments equilibrium is a requirement for a country, its growth of national income can be approximated by the ratio of the growth of exports to the income elasticity of demand for imports (Thirlwall's Law).


Thirlwall was educated at the Harrow Weald County Grammar School (1952–59) where he was first taught economics by Merlyn Rees who later became Home Secretary in the Government of James Callaghan 1976-79. He then attended University of Leeds (1959–62); Clark University (USA)(1962–63), and Cambridge University (1963–64).


Thirlwall started his teaching career as a teaching assistant at Clark University (USA) in 1962 and then as an economics tutor at Cambridge University 1963-64. He then went to the University of Leeds as an assistant lecturer from 1964 to 1966. In 1966 he joined the new University of Kent and was appointed as Professor of Applied Economics in 1976. During his time at Kent he has held several advisory and visiting positions: the Ministry of Overseas Development (1966); the Department of Employment and Productivity (1968–70); West Virginia University (1967); Princeton University (1971–72); University of Papua New Guinea (1974); Cambridge University (1979, 1986); Melbourne University (1981, 1988), and La Trobe University (1994). He has been guest lecturer at the Technical University of Lisbon (1984); National Autonomous University of Mexico (2000); and Mexico's National Polytechnic Institute (2008 and 2011).

Between 1971 and 1991 he organized eleven biennial Keynes Seminars at Keynes College, University of Kent, to commemorate the life and work of John Maynard Keynes. In the 1980s he served on the Council and Executive Committee of the Royal Economic Society and edited the conference volumes of the Confederation of European Economic Associations. In the 1990s he was active in the campaign against Britain joining the Euro, being a Trustee of the New Europe Research Trust and a Council Member of Business for Sterling. He is now General Editor of The Great Thinkers in Economics Series published by Palgrave Macmillan.


Pacific Islands Development Programme in Hawaii (1989–90), the African Development Bank (1993–94), Tongan Development Bank (1996), the Asian Development Bank (2003), and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (2004–06).

Editorial role[edit]

Served on the editorial boards of:

  • Journal of Development Studies (1979–2006)
  • Journal of Post Keynesian Economics (1988– )
  • African Development Review (1998– )
  • International Journal of Human Development (2005– )
  • Estudios de Economia, Portugal (1997–2002)

Key works[edit]