Frequency of references to ‘market’ and ‘competition’ in literature

A quick search on Google’s  Ngram Viewer for the words market and competition gave the following timeline. I decided to flag up a few milestone books in economics on the plot. This choice is arbitrary and of course hundreds of other explanations to the trends on the below plot could be found:

market_comp copy

  1. Adam Smith: An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776.
  2. David Ricardo: On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, 1817.
  3. Carl Menger: Principles of Economics, 1871.
  4. Alfred Marshall: Principles of Economics, 1890.
  5. John Maynard Keynes: General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, 1936.
  6. Friedrich Hayek: The Road to Serfdom, 1944.

Nothing surprising on these plots, mentioning of competition seems to move together with mentions of markets. Early 18th century, presumably as an effect of the likes of Cantillon, Quesnay, Turgot and a little later J-B Say and Adam Smith the discussion of markets in subsequently published books has become more common. In the period after the Wealth of Nations the propensity of the word market appearing in published books has remained steady up until the end of the 19th century. The 20th century saw a continuous increase in interest in markets – apart from the period around the Second World War. Finally, references to market and competition have been dropping in relative frequency since the 1990s (the biggest ever drop). Interestingly the most recent economic recession has not changed this trend.


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