Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Heterodox Economics


Heterodox economics refers to approaches or schools of economic thought that are considered outside of mainstream economics, which is primarily neoclassical economics. It includes various schools like institutional economics, evolutionary economics, social economics, and Marxist economics. These approaches often explore economic concepts and issues from different perspectives, challenging mainstream economic theories and assumptions.


The phonetics of the keyword ‘Heterodox Economics’ is: heh-tuh-roh-doks ee-kuh-nom-iks.

Key Takeaways

  1. Interdisciplinary Approach: Heterodox economics is not confined to a single economic theory or approach. It incorporates insights from various disciplines such as sociology, history, psychology, and others. This interdisciplinarity makes it capable of providing a holistic view of economic phenomena.
  2. Critical of Mainstream Economics: Heterodox economics often criticizes mainstream economics for relying heavily on mathematical models and assumptions about rational behavior. Heterodox economists argue that these models and assumptions do not accurately reflect the real world, therefore limiting their effectiveness.
  3. Focus on Real-World Issues: Heterodox economics is particularly concerned with real-world problems such as inequality, unemployment, and ecological sustainability. It aims to develop economic theories and policies that can help address these and other pressing social issues.


Heterodox Economics is a significant term in business and finance as it refers to the study and analysis of economic theories and methodologies that contrast with mainstream or orthodox economics. This term is used to explore various approaches that challenge the conventional assumptions in the dominant neoclassical economic models. It’s important because it fosters diversity in economic thinking by incorporating ideas from different disciplines and traditions such as Institutional, Post-Keynesian, Marxist, Feminist, and Ecological Economics, among others. It contributes to the robustness of the discipline by providing alternative perspectives to traditional economic theories, making policy recommendations and economic solutions more varied, adaptable, and inclusive.


Heterodox Economics refers to a variety of economic theories and approaches that deviate from the dominant or mainstream economics, the Orthodox Economics, known as Neoclassic and Keynesian economics. The major purpose of heterodox economics is to provide diverse, holistic, and inclusive viewpoints regarding the economic phenomena that mainstream economics may fail to comprehend or address appropriately. By veering away from the mainstream, heterodox economics often delve into areas such as social, political, and historical influences on the economy which are typically overlooked by the mainstream economics.The techniques and theories from heterodox economics are utilized by economists, researchers, and policymakers to offer fresh perspectives and innovative solutions for understanding and dealing with economic complexities. Especially in circumstances where the traditional models are ineffective or flawed, economists use heterodox approaches such as Marxist, feminist, institutional, ecological, or evolutionary economics, etc. These methods lend themselves to a better understanding of income disparities, economic development, environment-economy interaction, financial instability and crises, and the social and political constructs around economic matters. In this sense, heterodox economics acts as a powerhouse of diverse ideas and alternatives contributing to the broader understanding of economic reality.


1. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT): This is a relatively new school of thought in the field of economics. While orthodox economists generally believe that excessive government spending leads to inflation and budget deficits, proponents of MMT argue that countries that print their own money can never run out and can spend freely to stimulate the economy and achieve full employment. MMT has been put into practice in some form in countries like Japan and the United States, where massive government spending has not led to significant inflation.2. Post-Keynesian Economics: This school of economic thought deviates from mainstream Keynesian economics as it emphasizes aspects of economic inequality and unstable capitalist economies. It’s practiced in real-world scenarios that focus on government policies addressing income and wealth disparity. For example, the policies advocated by Bernie Sanders during the 2016 and 2020 U.S. Presidential elections are reflective of post-Keynesian economics.3. Green Economics: This branch of economics strongly emphasizes sustainability, and environmental and social justice. In practical terms, it has influence in shaping policies and business practices. For example, the European Union’s Green Deal, which aims to make Europe carbon neutral by 2050, is a comprehensive application of green economics. Similarly, companies that beyond mere profit seeking, invest funds into sustainable practices are also following the principles of green economics.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Heterodox Economics?

Heterodox Economics is a collection of economic theories and methodologies which stand as an alternative to mainstream economics, such as Marxist, Social, Post-Keynesian, and ecological economics. It’s often used to critique and offer alternatives to the orthodox approach of neoclassical economics.

What are the key characteristics of Heterodox Economics?

Heterodox Economics is typically associated with criticisms of free-market capitalism, advocating for various degrees of government intervention and regulation. It also tends to place emphasis on the social and historical context of economic activity.

Who are some recognized figures in Heterodox Economics?

Figures like John Maynard Keynes, Karl Marx, and Thorstein Veblen, are commonly associated with Heterodox Economics due to their groundbreaking theories which challenged traditional economics.

Is Heterodox Economics considered a legitimate field of study?

While it is not considered mainstream, Heterodox Economics is taught and studied at many universities around the world. Many economists believe that it offers valuable insights which can help to address real-world issues.

How does Heterodox Economics differ from Orthodox Economics?

Orthodox Economics, or neoclassical economics, typically relies on mathematical models and assumes rational behavior, while Heterodox Economics often critiques these models and assumptions, arguing that they do not accurately reflect real-world behavior and conditions.

How is Heterodox Economics applied practically?

Heterodox Economics is used in policy-making, regulation, and analysis, particularly in areas where mainstream economics may not provide adequate answers, such as wealth inequality or environmental sustainability.

What subjects does Heterodox Economics cover?

Heterodox Economics covers a wide range of subjects which include, but are not limited to, labor economics, development economics, political economy, social economics, and ecological economics.

Can Heterodox Economics predict financial crises?

While predicting financial crises is difficult for any economics theory, Heterodox Economics often includes theories that focus on economic instability, offering insights into the factors that can lead to a financial crisis.

Related Finance Terms

  • Post-Keynesian Economics
  • Institutional Economics
  • Feminist Economics
  • Marxian/Marxist Economics
  • Evolutionary Economics

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More