Biography of Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk
Roger W. Garrison
"Labor cannot increase its share at the expense of capital."
Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk (Born February 12, 1851; Died 1914) was in the right place at the right time to contribute importantly to the development of Austrian economics. Studying at the University of Vienna, he was twenty years old when Carl Menger's Principles of Economics appeared in print in 1871. His formal university training was in law (and thus he was not actually a student of Menger's), but after completing his doctorate in law in 1875, he began preparing himself both at home and abroad to teach economics in his native Austria.
A parallel progression from law to economics characterized the career of his classmate (and, later, brother-in-law) Friedrich von Wieser, best known for his Natural Value published in 1893. The strong influence of Menger's writings on Böhm-Bawerk's thinking, together with a life-time relationship with Wieser, made him a natural for expositing and developing the Austrian theory. In the judgment of Schumpeter (History of Economic Analysis, New York: Oxford University Press, 1954, p. 846), Böhm-Bawerk "was so completely the enthusiastic disciple of Menger that it is hardly necessary to look for other influences."
Böhm-Bawerk's career as a scholar, however, was an intermittent one. The most significant span of scholarly activity was his years at the University of Innsbruck (1881-1889). It was during the 1880s that he first published two of the three volumes of his magnum opus, Capital and Interest. His later years were dominated by his duties as the Austrian Minister of Finance, a position he held, though not continuously, throughout the 1890s and beyond-and for which he is fittingly honored by having his likeness on Austria's one-hundred schilling note. After serving in this capacity and assuming other governmental duties, he returned to teaching in 1904. With a...