Biography of John Kenneth Galbraith

John Kenneth Galbraith is the most famous American economist, most remembered for his ironic work “The New Industrial State.”

Childhood and youth

John Galbraith was one of four children at Archibald Galbraith and Sarah Katherine Kendal. His father was a schoolteacher and farmer, and his mother was a community activist in the community in which they lived. John’s mother passed away when he was 14 years old.

He studied at the St. Thomas School, and then at the Ontario Agricultural College, where in 1931 he received a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural economics.

Thanks to Giannini’s scholarship in the agricultural economy, he was able to enroll in the University of California, where he graduated in 1933 and received a master’s degree, and in 1934 became a doctor of science in the agricultural economy.


In 1934, he began teaching at Harvard University, where he intermittently taught until 1939. In

1937, he worked as a research fellow at the University of Cambridge, where he fell under the influence of the works of the famous economist, John Maynard Keynes. In the 1930s, he entered the civil service, the US Department of Agriculture. His work on managing economic processes, he helped President Roosevelt in preparation for World War II. During the service he grew to the post of head of state regulation of wages and prices at the Committee on Prices. But many considered his methods too contradictory, because of what he was forced to resign in 1943.

In 1943 he became a member of the board of editors of the magazine “Fortune”, where he worked until 1948. It was at this time that he realized how much he liked to write. In 1949, he was appointed to the position of economics teacher at Harvard.

During the Second World War, the team of economists was concerned with keeping inflation under control, as the US economy had not yet recovered from the Great Depression. He was appointed deputy head of the Committee on Prices in 1941 and in this position he worked until 1943.

In 1943, Henry Luce,

publisher of the magazines “Time” and “Fortune”, invited him to work. For five years Galbraith described in detail Keynesianism and believed that it was his duty to tell all Americans about how the economy worked and what the roles of large corporations were in it.

In February 1946, he was appointed head of the Bureau of Economic Security in the US Department of State, where in his post he was responsible for economic relations with Germany, Japan, Austria and South Korea. In September of the same year, he resigned and returned to his previous position in the magazine.

Together with Eleanor Roosevelt and Hubert Hamphreys, he worked on the creation of an organization engaged in progressive politics – “Americans for Democratic Action”, which began functioning in 1947.

John Kennedy was a student of Galbraith when he taught at Harvard. And when in 1960 Kennedy became president of the United States, he appointed Galbraith to the post of US Ambassador to India for a period from 1961 to 1963. In India, Galbraith closely communicated with the Prime Minister, for which he repeatedly advised on important issues.

Over the years he has written many books on various topics, but his specialization is still the theme of the economy. The most famous of his work on the economic theme is the American capitalist trilogy, which includes the following books: “Society of Abundance”, “New Industrial State” and “Economics and Public Objectives.”

Galbraith retired with the post of Honorary Professor Paul Warburg. In the last years of his life he did not slow down: he taught at several universities, continued to write and publish many articles, essays and letters.

Basic work

The most famous modern economist, Galbraith was an extremely influential figure in the institutional economy of the 20th century. He was an advisor to many well-known world leaders, and is also the author of many popular books on economics, including the popular book “The Society of Abundance.”

Awards and achievements

In 1946, US President Truman awarded Galbraith the US Medal of Freedom.

In 2000, US President Bill Clinton presented Galbraith with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In 2001, the Order of Padma Vibhushan was awarded to Galbraith, the second of India’s highest state awards, for his contribution to strengthening the relationship between the United States and India.

Personal life and heritage

John Galbraith married Marry Atwater in 1937. The couple had four children, and Galbraith had 10 grandchildren. The couple lived together 68 years, until the death of Galbraith.

John Galbraith died of natural causes at the age of 97 in 2006, after a long and productive life.

Interesting Facts

President John F. Kennedy was a student of John Galbraith.

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Biography of John Kenneth Galbraith