Richard Kahn, Baron Kahn

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The Lord Kahn
Richard Ferdinand Kahn

(1905-08-10)10 August 1905
Hampstead, England, UK
Died6 June 1989(1989-06-06) (aged 83)
Cambridge, England, UK
Academic career
FieldPolitical economy
School or
Keynesian economics
InfluencesGerald Shove, John Maynard Keynes
ContributionsEconomic multiplier

Richard Ferdinand Kahn, Baron Kahn, CBE, FBA (10 August 1905 – 6 June 1989) was a British economist.

Kahn was born in Hampstead into the orthodox Jewish family of Augustus Kahn, inspector of schools and former German schoolmaster, and Regina Schoyer. He was brought up in England and educated at St Paul's School, London. He attended King's College, Cambridge.[1] Kahn took a 1st in Mathematics, Part I, at Cambridge, followed in 1927 by a 2nd in Physics in the Natural Sciences tripos. Taught economics by Gerald Shove and John Maynard Keynes from 1927 to 1928, he gained a 1st in Economics, Part II, in 1928. In 1930, he was elected a Fellow of King's College.[2]

Kahn worked in the Faculty of Economics and Politics from 1933. He became Director of Studies for economics students at King's College in 1947, a post he held for four years. Kahn was appointed professor of economics in 1951, and succeeded Keynes as Bursar of King's College.[3] He served in numerous other government and agency positions, such as the research and planning division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe in 1955 and the UK National Coal Board in 1967.[1] Kahn retired from Cambridge in 1972, but continued to live at King's College.

Kahn's most notable contribution to economics was his principle of the multiplier. The multiplier is the relation between the increase in aggregate expenditure and the increase in net national product (output).[2] It is the increase in aggregate expenditure (for example government spending) that causes the increase in output (or income).[4] His findings on the multiplier were first published in his 1931 article, "The Relation of Home Investment to Unemployment".[5] There has been extensive debate on whether Kahn's thinking on the multiplier was foreshadowed or aided by the work of other economists such as Lyndhurst Giblin.[6]

Kahn was one of the five members of Keynes' Cambridge Circus. Kahn was also one of Keynes' closest collaborators on the creation of Keynes' General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.[7]

Kahn was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1946[8] and became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1960, and was created a life peer with the title Baron Kahn, of Hampstead in the London Borough of Camden on 6 July 1965.[9][10]


  1. ^ a b John M. Shaftesley (2008). "Encyclopaedia Judaica: Kahn, Richard Ferdinand, Lord". The Gale Group. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b Luigi L. Pasinetti (2008). Durlauf, Steven N.; Blume, Lawrence E. (eds.). "Kahn, Richard Ferdinand (1905–1989)". The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics. Palgrave Macmillan: 660–662. doi:10.1057/9780230226203.0879. ISBN 978-0-333-78676-5. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  3. ^ "The Papers of Richard Ferdinand Kahn, RFK". Cambridge: King's College Archive Centre. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  4. ^ Richard Goodwin (1994). "Kahn and Economic Dynamics". Cambridge Journal of Economics. 18 (1). UK: Oxford University Press: 73–76. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  5. ^ R. F. Kahn (June 1931). "The Relation of Home Investment to Unemployment". The Economic Journal. 41 (162). Wyley-Blackwell: 173–198. doi:10.2307/2223697. JSTOR 2223697.
  6. ^ See, e.g., Donald Markwell, Keynes and Australia, Reserve Bank of Australia, 2000, pages 34–7.
  7. ^ Kahn, Richard F. (2011). The making of Keynes' general theory (Reprint of 1984 first ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521189750. Retrieved 30 October 2012. Peter Clarke, The Keynesian Revolution in the Making, 1924–1936, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990.
  8. ^ "No. 37598". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 1946. p. 2784.
  9. ^ "No. 43708". The London Gazette. 9 July 1965. pp. 6519–6520.
  10. ^ "The Peerage – Persons". 21 May 2006. p. 191477. Retrieved 27 October 2012. Richard Ferdinand Cahn, Baron Kahn was invested as a Commander, Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.). He was created Baron Kahn of Hampstead in the London Borough of Camden, U.K. Life Peer. on 6 July 1965

Further reading[edit]

  • N. Aslanbeigui and G. Oakes. The Provocative Joan Robinson: The Making of a Cambridge Economist, Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2009, pp. 103–8, 125–33 et passim. ISBN 9780822345381