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Walter Eucken
Walter Eucken2.jpg
Birth 17 January 1891(1891-01-17)
Death 20 March 1950 (aged 59)
Nationality German Empire
Field Macroeconomics
Contributions Social market economy

Walter Eucken (17 January 1891 – 20 March 1950) was a German economist and father of ordoliberalism. His name is closely linked with the development of the "social market economy".


Walter Eucken was born in Jena, Thuringia. His father was the philosopher Rudolf Eucken, who won the 1908 Nobel Prize in Literature.

At first more interested in history, Walter Eucken chose to study economics in Kiel, Jena and Bonn. He graduated in 1913, shortly before he had to serve as officer at the fronts of World War I. In 1921, Eucken got his first professorship in Berlin. In 1927 he moved to Freiburg, where he was professor of economics until his death. During the Nazi period, Eucken was associated to the resistance movement (Freiburg Bonhoeffer Circle).

He died in London, UK.

In 1954, four years after Eucken's death, a group of friends and former students founded the Walter Eucken Institut. Its president is James M. Buchanan since 2004.


Eucken's ordoliberalism, which is the German variant of neoliberalism, claims that the state has the task to provide the political framework for economic freedom. The state should form an economical order instead of directing economical processes.

The idea of ordoliberalism was introduced for the first time in 1937 in Ordnung der Wirtschaft, a periodical published by Walter Eucken, Franz Böhm and Hans Großmann-Doerth. From 1948 on it was further developed in the journal ORDO.

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