Vale Professor Geoff Harcourt

It is with great sadness that the Economic Society of Australia acknowledges the passing of one of Australia’s greatest economists, Professor Geoffrey Harcourt who died early on Tuesday morning, 7 December, age 90.

Geoffrey was arguably Australia’s best-known economist globally. Geoffrey was a supreme advocate for the post-Keynesian school of economic thought. He had a life-long commitment to work towards alleviating poverty and against social and racial discrimination. And, throughout his lengthy adult life, Geoffrey was deeply engaged with the economics community.

Geoffrey studied at the University of Melbourne and at King’s College Cambridge where he received his doctorate. In 1958 he moved to the University of Adelaide as a lecturer. In 1963, he was one of the founders of Australian Economic Papers.Hewas appointed to a chair in Economics at Adelaide in 1967. He was President of the Economic Society of Australia from 1974 until 1977. 

While at Adelaide, Geoffrey made frequent lecturing and research trips to Cambridge University. In 1982 Geoffrey moved to the Economics Department of University of Cambridge full time where he became Reader. He was Fellow of Jesus College, and President in 1988-89 and 1990-92. Geoffrey also served for eight years on the Council of the University of Cambridge. Upon retirement in 1998 he was nominated Reader Emeritus in the History of Economic Theory at the University of Cambridge.   

Although working for a lengthy time overseas, Geoffrey always considered himself an Australian economist and patriot, with an enduring love of Australian football. While based in Adelaide, Geoffrey had played for over 23 years with the Adelaide University Football Club (“The Blacks). In 1998 Geoffrey returned to Australia where he was appointed Honorary Professor of Economics at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

Over his lifetime Geoffrey wrote and co-authored 30 books and over 400 papers. The books famously include:  Some Cambridge controversies in the theory of capital, CUP Archive, 1972, with Colin Geoffrey. And Joan Robinson, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, with Prue Kerr.

Geoffrey received numerous high achievement awards. In 1994, he was made an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO) “for service to economic theory and the history of economic thought”.

In 2018, Geoff was elevated to Companion in the Order of Australia (AC) - the nation’s highest honour for ‘eminent service to higher education as an academic economist and author, particularly in the fields of post-Keynesian economics, capital theory and economic thought’.

Geoffrey was a wonderfully warm personality who readily made friends. He made an enduring contribution to economics and to society more generally.

Geoffrey will be much missed by the economics community in Australia and overseas. Our condolences go to his family, wife Joan and their four children, and to his many friends especially those in the economics community in Australia and overseas.

Peter Abelson (Secretary, Economic Society of Australia, 1993-2006)

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