Phillip W. Magness

Historian – 19th century United States

On Keynes and Eugenics

My article with Sean J. Hernandez on the “Economic Eugenicism of John Maynard Keynes” is now available at SSRN. This article should be approached as a synthesis of the role that eugenics played across Keynes’ career and in the formation of his economic theories. It is also the proverbial tip of the iceberg as far as new and under-explored evidence goes.

I intend to write more on this topic in the coming months as part of an ongoing project to provide contextual detail and background to the emergence of Keynesian thought in the 1920s and 30s. I’ll offer a short preview in the form of a quotation of Keynes, recorded by Margaret Sanger at a 1925 conference on population in Geneva:

“I am discouraged because they are not striking at fundamentals. They do not want to think of one fundamental question, and that is the population question. There is not a city, not a country, in the League of Nations today that will accept it, or discuss it, and until the nations of the world are willing to sit down and talk about their problems from the population point of view, its rate of growth, its distribution, and its quality, they might just as well throw their peace proposals into the waste basket, because they will never have international peace until they do consider that problem.”

To my knowledge, none of Keynes’ biographers have engaged with his role at this event or the implications of his statement for his views on unemployment, conflict, war, and resource allocation. Stay tuned!


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