Austrian School

Economic Approaches:

Key assumptions and aspects:

  • Main concern: Negative liberty (freedom from government interference into individual’s person and property)
  • Economies are made up of: Individuals
  • Human beings are: Individuals formed by customs and traditions
  • Economies change through: Individual subjective choices
  • Favoured methods: Deductive logic and praxeology
  • Typical policy recommendations: Free markets and laissez-faire

The Austrian school came into existence during the marginalist revolution at the end of the 19th century in Austria. In opposition to the historical school of economics and Marxian political school, it tried to explain economic reality by deducing it from certain universal principles such as subjective value, spontaneous order and opportunity costs. It argues that individuals always know what is best for themselves. Because the world is complex and even unknowable to a large extent, unconstrained markets are viewed as the best institution as they convey crucial information through price mechanisms. The school became more distinctly organized as such after the Second World War when neoclassical economics went through its formalistic revolution and thus moved further away from the Austrian school; at first the two were very similar.


  • Austrian Economics on Exploring Economics, from 2016. 
  • Rethinking Economics: An Introduction to Pluralist Economics by Liliann Fischer, Joe Hasell, J. Christopher Proctor, David Uwakwe, Zach W. Perkins, & Catriona Watson, from 2018, chapter 3. 
  • Economics: The User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang, 2014, chapter 4.
  • A Companion to the History of Economic Thought by Warren J. Samuels, Jeff. E. Biddle & John B. Davis, from 2003, chapters 17 and 28A. 
  • The Oxford Handbook of Austrian Economics by Peter J. Boettke & Christopher J. Coyne, from 2015.
  • An Introduction to Austrian Economics by Thomas C. Taylor, most recent edition from 2020. 
  • Advanced Introduction to the Austrian School of Economics by Randal G. Holcombe, 2014.