In 1969 Norwegian Ragnar Frisch, along with Dutch economist Jan Tinbergen, received the first Nobel Prize for economics “for having developed and applied dynamic models for the analysis of economic processes.” Frisch received his prize for his pioneering work in econometric modeling and measurement; indeed, Frisch invented the word “econometrics” to refer to the use of mathematical and statistical techniques to test economic hypotheses. Frisch founded the Econometric Society in 1930.

Frisch believed that econometrics would help establish economics as a science, but toward the end of his life he had doubts about how econometrics was being used. “I have insisted that econometrics must have relevance to concrete realities,” he wrote, “otherwise it degenerates into something which is not worthy of the name econometrics, but ought rather to be called playometrics.”

In a paper on business cycles, Frisch was the first to use the words “microeconomics” to refer to the study of single firms and industries, and “macroeconomics” to refer to the study of the aggregate economy.

Frisch spent most of his professional life at the University of Oslo in Norway.

About the Author


David R. Henderson is the editor of The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. He is also an emeritus professor of economics with the Naval Postgraduate School and a research fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He earned his Ph.D. in economics at UCLA.

Selected Works


1933. “Propagation Problems and Impulse Problems in Dynamic Economics.” In Economic Essays in Honor of Gustav Cassel. Reprinted in R. A. Gordon and L. R. Klein, eds., Readings in Business Cycles. London: Allen and Unwin, 1966.
1934. Statistical Confluence Analysis by Means of Complete Regression Systems. Oslo: University Institute of Economics.
1936. “Annual Survey of General Economic Theory: The Problem of Index Numbers.” Econometrica 4, no. 1: 1–38.
1970. “Econometrics in the World of Today.” In W. A. Eltis, M. F. Scott, and J. N. Wolfe, eds., Induction, Growth and Trade: Essays in Honour of Sir Roy Harrod. London: Clarendon Press.