The American Economic Association was organized in 1885 at a meeting in Saratoga, New York, by a small group interested in economics. It was incorporated in Washington, DC, on February 3, 1923. Richard T. Ely, who was actively involved in the founding of the Association, was its first secretary.
The purposes of the Association are:
1. The encouragement of economic research, especially the historical and statistical study of the actual conditions of industrial life.
2. The issue of publications on economic subjects.
3. The encouragement of perfect freedom of economic discussion. The Association as such will take no partisan attitude, nor will it commit its members to any position on practical economic questions.
AEA, in conjunction with over 50 associations in related disciplines, holds a three-day meeting to present papers on general economic subjects. About 500 scholarly sessions are held each year. A placement service operates to assist employers and job applicants; it begins a day prior to the meetings. All members are invited to attend the annual business meeting, which takes place during this period.