In this keynote speech, Roger Backhouse gives a historical overview of theories on secular stagnation: how it evolved from a description of the economic situation, especially in the U.S. of the 1930s to an analytical tool and then lost importance until its current revival. Backhouse touches upon the contributions of J. A. Hobson, Alvin Hansen, Evsey Domar and Paul Samuelson.
Roger Backhouse puts the ongoing discussion on secular stagnation into historical perspective. Tracing the idea back to the late 19th century economist Hobson, who outlined the role of underconsumption, excess saving and inequality in slowing down economic growth, Backhouse revisits the secular stagnation discussions by authors like Hansen, Samuelson, Harrod and Domar. In different ways these economists emphasised the role of technical progress, low population growth and the resulting lack of aggregate demand.