Joan Violet Robinson FBA (31 October 1903 – 5 August 1983), previously Joan Violet Maurice, was a British economist well known for her wide-ranging contributions to economic theory. She was a central figure in what became known as post-Keynesian economics.
In 1933 in her book The Economics of Imperfect Competition, Robinson made important contributions to value theory, using marginal analysis to examine the determination of prices and quantities when firms possess market power. She also coined the term “monopsony,” which is used to describe the buyer converse of a seller monopoly. Monopsony is commonly applied to buyers of labour, where the employer has wage setting power that allows it to exercise Pigouvian exploitation and pay workers less than their marginal productivity.
Along with Robert Chamberlin she is credited with the revival of interest in imperfect competition in the 1930s.
In 1942 Robinson’s An Essay on Marxian Economics famously concentrated on Karl Marx as an economist, helping to revive the debate on this aspect of his legacy.
In 1956 Robinson published what she considered her magnum opus, The Accumulation of Capital, which extended Keynesianism into the long-run.
In 1962 she published Essays in the Theory of Economic Growth, another book on growth theory, which discussed Golden Age growth paths. Afterwards she developed the Cambridge growth theory with Nicholas Kaldor.
During the 1960s she was a major participant in the Cambridge capital controversy alongside Piero Sraffa.
Near the end of her life she studied and concentrated on methodological problems in economics and tried to recover the original message of Keynes’ General Theory. Between 1962 and 1980 she wrote many economics books for the general public. Robinson suggested developing an alternative to the revival of classical economics.