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Alexander Kirkland Cairncross

(1911—1998) economist and public servant


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Alec Cairncross was born 11 February 1911 in Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, and died 21 October 1998 in Oxford. He was the third of four sons and the seventh of eight children of an ironmonger and a schoolteacher. He was educated at Turfholm village school, Hamilton Academy, Glasgow University (BA with first-class honours, 1931) and Trinity College, Cambridge in 1932, for which he won a research studentship, and by which he was awarded only the second PhD in economics at Cambridge. His thesis, ‘British Home and Foreign Investment 1870–1913’, was not published until 1953, but it rapidly became a classic of the field. During his three years at Cambridge he was a member of the keynes ‘circus’, enjoying conversations and debates with A.C. pigou, Joan robinson, Austin robinson, Dennis robertson, James meade, Richard kahn and Keynes himself.

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From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Economics.


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