Condliffe, J.B. (John Bell), 1891-1981

Alternative names
Birth 1891-12-23
Death 1981-12-23

Biographical notes:

American economist; research secretary, Institute of Pacific Relations, 1927-1931; member, Economic Intelligence Service, League of Nations, 1931-1937.

From the description of J. B. Condliffe papers, 1918-1981. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 123373304

J.B. Condliffe was born in Melbourne, Australia on Dec. 23, 1891, and educated at Canterbury and Cambridge Universities. His teaching career included a position as Professor of Economics at Canterbury College, Christchurch, N.Z., and eventually a post as Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley (1940-1958). He also served as Senior Economist at the Stanford Research Institute (1961-1967).

From the description of J.B. Condliffe papers : additions , 1919-1981. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 122564891


John Bell Condliffe, internationally famed economist and professor of the University of California, was born on Dec. 23, 1891, in Melbourne, Australia. Educated in New Zealand, he received his B. A. degree in 1914 and his M. A. in 1915 from Canterbury College. During this period he also worked in the Customs Department and later as statistician in the government Statistician's office. In 1916 he became lecturer in economics at Canterbury College. After serving in World War I with the New Zealand Division, he attended Cambridge University as a Sir Thomas Gresham Research student. Upon his return to New Zealand in 1920 he became professor of economics at Canterbury College, serving until 1926. In 1925 he attended the Institute of Pacific Relations' first conference, held in Honolulu, as a delegate from New Zealand. He presented his doctoral dissertation, "Industrial Revolution in the Far East", in 1927 and obtained his D. Sc. (Economics) in 1928.

Professor Condliffe accepted the position of research secretary with the Institute of Pacific Relations in 1927. In this capacity he traveled extensively in China, Japan, Europe and America, and was responsible for the organization of the Institute's research work. He also wrote reports on the conference held in Honolulu (1927) and in Kyoto (1929). Although he left the Institute in 1931, he attended later conferences in 1939, 1940 and 1943, and was chairman of the International Research Committee from 1943 until 1945.

From 1931 to 1937 Professor Condliffe was associated with the League of Nations. During this period he compiled annual World Economic Surveys (for which he received the Henry E. Howland Memorial prize from Yale in 1939), helped prepare reports on the economic aspects of the Manchurian dispute (1931), drafted part of the agenda and final report of the Monetary and Economic Conference held in London (1933) and was a member of the committee studying the economic sanctions imposed on Italy in connection with the Ethiopian war (1936).

While filling an appointment as professor of commerce at the University of London from 1937 through 1939, he collaborated with the International Chamber of Commerce in preparing for its meeting at Copenhagen in June 1939. He served as Rapporteur-General of the Meeting and made the keynote address. He also reported on the International Studies Conferences of these two years. At the same time Professor Condliffe, aided by a Rockefeller Foundation grant, directed an international research project relating to trade regulations. The results of the studies were published in his book "The Reconstruction of World Trade" in 1940.

In 1940 Professor Condliffe came to the University of California to teach in the Department of Economics. During leaves of absence and summer months he accepted many positions: research associate of the Institute of International Studies of Yale University (1943-1944); associate director of the Division of Economics and History of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1942-1947), which published the papers, "Studies in World Trade and Employment"; assistant in the organization of UNRRA; chairman, 1949, of an international committee of experts in the preparation of a "Report on World Commodity Problems" for the Food and Agricultural Organization of the U. N.; member of a team to establish programs in the Near and Middle East for the Ford Foundation in 1952; consultant to the Ford Foundation in 1953; vice-president and chairman of Section K of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1954.

While at the University of California, Professor Condliffe, in 1946, with financial assistance from the Alfred Sloan Foundation, created the Teaching Institute of Economics, which participated in many conferences, seminars and activities in the Bay Area. Professor Condliffe was a member of several university committees, with a particular interest in international relations and Asiatic studies. He was a member of the Foreign Commerce Committee of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, and a member of the Executive Committee of the World Trade Association of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, taking an active part in its annual conferences at Asilomar for many years. He was also a member of the Executive Committee of Pacifica Foundation (KPFA). He published numerous articles and books throughout his academic career, and gave many lectures and speeches.

In 1958 Professor Condliffe retired from teaching to take up consultant work in India as adviser to the Indian National Council of Economic Research with the Stanford Research Institute for two years.

He died in 1981.

From the guide to the J.B. Condliffe Papers, [ca. 1910-1960], (The Bancroft Library)


J. B. (John Bell) Condliffe was born in Melbourne Australia on December 23, 1891 to Alfred Bell and Margaret Condliffe. He attended Canterbury University, and Gonville and Caius Colleges, Cambridge University . He married Olive G. Mills in 1916 and they had three children: John Charles, Peter George, and Margaret Mary.

Condliffe's teaching career included positions as Professor of Economics at Canterbury College, Christchurch, New Zealand, 1920-26; Research Secretary at the Institute of Pacific Relations ; Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan, 1930-31; member of the League of Nations Secretariat, 1931-37; Professor of Commerce at the London School of Economics, 1937-39; Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, 1940-58; and, Senior Economist at Stanford Research Institute, 1961-67.

Condliffe published several books and articles during his active professional life. These include The Reconstruction of World Trade: A Survey of International Economic Relations (1940), The Development of Australia (1964), and Te Rangi Hiroa: The Life of Sir Peter Buck (1971), as well as several books on New Zealand, including The Welfare State in New Zealand (1959), and The Economic Outlook for New Zealand (1969).

Throughout his career, Condliffe served on many committees and was active in several organizations. His accomplishments were recognized by several awards, including the Henry E. Howland Memorial Prize at Yale University (1939) the Wendell Willkie Prize in 1950, and the Sir James Wattie Prize in 1972.

Additional biographical information may be found in the prefatory pages of the finding aid to the J. B. (John Bell) Condliffe Papers, [ca. 1916-1981], BANC MSS C-B 901.

From the guide to the J. B. (John Bell) Condliffe Papers: Additions, 1919-1981, 1960-1969, (The Bancroft Library.)

Chronological Biography

  • 1891, Dec. 23: Born, Melbourne, Australia
  • 1913: B.A., Canterbury College
  • 1914: M.A., University of Canterbury
  • 1915: Lecturer in Economics, University of Canterbury
  • 1914 - 1918 : Served in the First World War with the New Zealand Division
  • 1916: Married Olive Grace Mills
  • 1919 - 1920 : Gainville and Caius College, Cambridge
  • 1920 - 1926 : Professor of Economics, Canterbury College
  • 1925: Attended the first conference of the Institute of Pacific Relations at Honolulu
  • 1927: Received the degree of D.Sc. in Economics from the University of New Zealand; Author, Problems of the Pacific
  • 1927 - 1931 : Research Secretary, Institute of Pacific Relations, Hawaii
  • 1930: Author, New Zealand in the Making
  • 1930 - 1931 : Visiting Professor of Economics, University of Michigan
  • 1931: Author, Problems of Food and Population in the Pacific Area, and The Pacific Area in International Relations
  • 1931 - 1937 : Member, Economic Intelligence Service, League of Nations
  • 1932: Author, China To-Day: Economic
  • 1933: Author, World Economic Survey
  • 1935: Author, A Short History of New Zealand, and War and Depression
  • 1937 - 1939 : Professor of Commerce, University of London
  • 1938: Author, Markets and the Problem of Peaceful Change, and A Survey of International Research in Europe
  • 1939: Recipient of Howland Memorial Prize, Yale University Author, The Changing Structure of Economic Life
  • 1940 - 1958 : Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley
  • 1940: Author, The Reconstruction of World Trade
  • 1941: Author, Report Upon a Survey International House, University of California, Berkeley
  • 1942: Received Honorary degree of LL.D., Occidental College Author, Agenda For a Postwar World
  • 1943: Author, The Economic Pattern of World Population
  • 1943 - 1944 : Research Associate, Institute of International Studies, Yale University
  • 1943 - 1947 : Associate Director, Division of Economics and History, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • 1944: Author, The Foreign Economic Policy of the United States, and The Common Interest in International Economic Organisation
  • 1945: Naturalized citizen of the United States Author, How Much Tariff Protection for Farm Products?, La Politica Economic Exterior De Estados Unidos, Exchange Stabilization, and World Economic Survey
  • 1946: Author, Proposals For Consideration by an International Conference on Trade and Development
  • 1947: Author, Obstacles to Multilateral Trading and The Foreign Loan Policy of the United States
  • 1950: Recipient of Wendell Wilkie Prize Author, The Commerce of Nations, The Economic Consequences of Scientific Research, and Point Four and the World Economy
  • 1951: Author, Technological Progress and Economic Development and International Trade and Economic Nationalism
  • 1953: Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 1957: Received Honorary Litt.D. degree, University of New Zealand
  • 1959 - 1960 : Adviser, Indian National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi
  • 1959: Author, The Welfare State in New Zealand
  • 1961 - 1967 : Senior Economist, Stanford Research Institute
  • 1964: Author, The Development of Australia
  • 1965: Author, Foresight and Enterprise and From Adam Smith to Keynes -and After
  • 1966: Author, The Balancing of International Payment: Money and Goods
  • 1967: Author, The University and Technology
  • 1969: Author, The Economic Outlook for New Zealand
  • 1971: Author, Te Rangi Hiroa
  • 1973: Erskine Fellow, University of Canterbury
  • 1974: Author, Defunct Economists
  • 1977: Gold Cross, Royal Order of Phoenix (Greece)
  • 1981: Author, Reminiscences of the Institute of Pacific Relations
  • 1981, Dec. 23: Died, Walnut Creek, California

From the guide to the John Bell Condliffe Papers, 1919-1975, (Hoover Institution Archives)

Oliver Edwin Baker (1883-1949) was an agricultural geographer and population expert and an analyst for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was an authority on agricultural land utilization and advocate of “rurban” living, a combination of urban employment, suburban living, and part-time farming.

Baker was born in 1883 in Tifflin, Ohio, to Edwin Baker, a merchant, and his wife Martha Ranney Thomas. As a boy Baker was taught by his mother, a former school teacher, and then in public school. He graduated at age nineteen from Heidelberg College in Tifflin with a major in history and mathematics. The following year he received his master’s degree in philosophy and sociology from Heidelberg. He then enrolled at Columbia University, where he was granted a master’s in political science. He subsequently studied forestry at Yale (1907-1908) and agriculture at the University of Wisconsin (1908-1912). During his time at Wisconsin he co-authored an essay on the climate of Wisconsin and its effects on agriculture, and he spent his summers with the Wisconsin Soil Survey. In 1912 Baker joined the United States Department of Agriculture. Five years later he co-authored the Geography of the World’s Agriculture . The positive reception of this volume motivated Baker to produce an Atlas of American Agriculture, which was published in six parts between 1918 and 1936. Baker subsequently returned to the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a Ph.D. in economics in 1921 with a dissertation on land utilization. His research interests in the economics of agriculture stemmed in part from the influence of two of his professors at Wisconsin, Henry C. Taylor (1873-1969) and Richard T. Ely (1854-1943).

In 1922 Baker accepted Taylor’s invitation to join the Department of Agriculture’s new Bureau of Agricultural Economics. There he undertook a number of research projects, including many that involved the delineating and mapping of agricultural regions. His “Agricultural Regions of North America” was published in several parts between 1926 and 1933 in Economic Geography, for which he also served as associate editor for several years. He evidently often amazed his students by citing statistics on any of the 300 counties in the United States. Among his other publications during this period was an essay on agriculture in China that appeared in Foreign Affairs (1928). Baker was vice president of the Association of American Geographers in 1824 and president in 1932. During this period he was involved in the Association’s long-term program to investigate the “the margin of the cultivable earth,” so-called pioneer belts. In the late 1920s he also belonged to a National Research Council’s committee charged with the study of pioneer belts. From 1923 to 1927 Baker taught part-time in the newly established geography department at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

By the 1930s Baker became increasingly interested in questions related to population studies, including rural-urban migration, population quality, and living conditions on farms. Baker’s research in population problems stemmed from his interest in what he saw as the most valuable farm product, outstanding citizens. He encouraged and participated in several surveys of rural youth, and, based on his recognition that many rural people live in unsatisfactory conditions, he devoted much energy to improving their circumstances. For example, he attempted to the future of farming by studying past agricultural trends, offered specific suggestions designed to improve farming practices, and he tried to increase popular awareness of the contributions of farm families to the nation’s welfare. He essentially saw the nation as a complex of agricultural regions, and while some geographers regarded his agrarianism as reactionary, others recognized his contributions especially in the mapping of these regions. In 1937 the University of Göttingen awarded him an honorary degree.

Baker was deeply concerned about the declining U.S. birthrate, especially among urban people, which he predicted would have devastating consequences for the entire nation. He was a strong advocate of a “rurban” lifestyle that would combine urban employment with suburban living and part-time farming. This, he believed, would help preserve the rural values he so admired, including the “family ideal,” “the worth of the human soul, patriotism, the dignity of labor, the necessity of sacrifice, and the widespread distribution in the ownership of property,” as he explained in his essay “Some Implications of Population Trends to the Christian Church” (1942). Baker also believed that a “rurban” society would help improve land-use practices and increase the birthrate. He called for farm ownership over many generations, with one dwelling reserved for the older couple and one for the younger. Baker and his wife Alice Hargrave Crew, whom he married in 1925, practiced what he preached. The couple raised four children on a suburban property where they grew a garden and raised cows and chickens. Baker eventually bought a farm in Virginia with the intention of leaving it to his son.

In 1942 Baker joined the faculty of the University of Maryland. At that time, the university offered no courses in geography. Over the next seven years, Baker established what became one of the foremost geography departments in the country. He retired as chairman in 1949 in order to focus on his research, especially in connection to the Atlas of World Resources and the China Atlas . He died later that year in his home in College Park, Maryland.

From the guide to the Oliver Edwin Baker papers, 1913-1949, 1913-1949, (American Philosophical Society)


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  • Geography--United States--Societies, etc
  • Commerce
  • Economic development
  • Pan--Pacific relations
  • Agriculture--Atlases
  • Economic geography
  • Economics--Study and teaching
  • Agriculture--Research


  • Geographers
  • Economists


  • New Zealand (as recorded)
  • Australia (as recorded)
  • Australia (as recorded)
  • New Zealand (as recorded)
  • Pacific Area (as recorded)
  • Pacific Area. (as recorded)