Paul A. Samuelson

(b. 1915)

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(1915– )

US economist who won the 1970 Nobel Prize for his work in economic analysis and methodology, particularly the use of mathematical tools and derivation of new theorems.

Born in Indiana, Samuelson was educated at the universities of Chicago and Harvard and was appointed professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1940 (emeritus professor since 1985). He worked for the US Treasury for seven years after World War II and has acted as a consultant to many government bodies. Much of his work has appeared in journal articles, but his introductory text Economics (1948) is now in its fourteenth edition and has been translated into twenty-four languages. Other publications are The Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947) and Linear Programming and Economic Analysis (1958, written jointly with Dorfman and Solow).

Samuelson studied a wide range of economic topics, including dynamics and equilibrium theory, the trade cycle, capital (upholding the neoclassical position in the debate on the subject with Cambridge, England, in the 1960s), welfare economics (he devised the Samuelson Tests for judging whether or not some charge will increase welfare), ‘revealed preference’ as a substitute for utility theory in consumer demand, public finance, and international economics. His ‘factor-price equalization theorem’ states the conditions under which free international trade tends to equalize the prices of a good in the trading countries and thereby to equalize the prices of factors of production, so that free trade can be seen as a substitute for the free mobility of the factors of production. He was the first to construct a model of the trade cycle, based on the interaction between the multiplier and the accelerator in an economy.

Subjects: Economics.

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