Ragnar Anton Kittil Frisch (March 3, 1895 – January 31, 1973) was a Norwegian economist and the co-winner with Jan Tinbergen of the first Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1969.
Ragnar Frisch was born on March 3, 1895 in Oslo as the son of gold- and silversmith Anton Frisch and Ragna Fredrikke b. Kittilsen. Being expected to continue his family business, Frisch became an apprentice in the David Andersen workshop in Oslo. However, at his mother's advice, while doing his apprenticeship Frisch also started studying at the University of Oslo. His chosen topic was economics, as it seemed to be "the shortest and easiest study" available at the university, and passed his degree during 1919. During 1920 he also passed his handicraftsman tests and became a partner in his father's workshop.
During 1921 Frisch received a fellowship from the university which enabled him to spend three years studying economics and mathematics in France and England. After his return to Norway, during 1923, although the family's business was having difficulties, he continued his scientific activity, believing that research, not jewellery, was his real career. He published a few papers about probability theory, started teaching at the University of Oslo during 1925 and, during 1926, he gained his Ph. D with a thesis in mathematical statistics.
Also during 1926, Frisch published an article outlining his view that economics should follow the same path towards theoretical and empirical quantization that other sciences, especially physics, had followed. During the same year, he published his seminal article "Sur un problème d'économie pure" starting the implementation of his own quantization programme. The article offered theoretical axiomatizations which result in a precise specification of both ordinal and cardinal utility, followed by an empirical estimation of the cardinal specification. Frisch also started lecturing a course on production theory, introducing a mathematization of the subject.
Frisch received a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation to visit the United States during 1927. There, he attempted to associate with other economists interested with the new mathematical and statistical approaches to economics, including Irving Fisher, Wesley Clair Mitchell, Allyn Young and Henry Schultz. He wrote a paper analyzing the role of investment in explaining economic fluctuations. Wesley Mitchell, who had just written a book on business cycles, popularized Frisch's paper which was introducing new advanced methods.
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