A brand of neo-classical economics established in Vienna during the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. It was strongly opposed to Marxism and, more broadly, to the use of economic theories to justify government intervention in the economy.


Prominent members included Friedrich hayek, Joseph schumpeter and Ludwig von Mises. It gave birth to the definition of economics as the science of studying human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means that have alternative uses. Austrian economic thinking was characterised by attributing all economic activity, including the behaviour of apparently impersonal institutions, to the wishes and actions of individuals. It did this by examining choices in terms of their opportunity cost (that is, what is the next best use of resources to that which is being considered?) and by analysing the impact of timing on decision making.

Hayek correctly predicted the failure of Soviet-style central planning. His ideas are said to have inspired many of the free-market reforms carried out during the 1980s in the United States under Ronald Reagan and in the UK under Margaret Thatcher. Schumpeter developed a theory of innovation and economic change characterised by the phrase creative destruction.

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