Profile Major Works Resources

Paul A. Samuelson, 1915-2009



Perhaps more than anyone else, Paul A. Samuelson has personified mainstream economics in the second half of the twentieth century. The writer of the most successful principles textbook ever (1948), Paul Samuelson has been not unjustly considered the incarnation of the economics "establishment" - and as a result, has been both lauded and vilified for virtually everything right and wrong about it.

Samuelson's most famous piece of work, Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947), one of the grand tomes that helped revive Neoclassical economics and launched the era of the mathematization of economics.  Samuelson was one of the progenitors of the Paretian revival   in microeconomics and the Neo-Keynesian Synthesis in macroeconomics during the post-war period.

Originating from Gary, Indiana and growing up in Chicago, Paul Anthony Samuelson enrolled at the University of Chicago in 1932, and received his B.A. in 1935.  He went on to enroll at Harvard, receiving his MA in 1936 and his Ph.D in 1941.  His thesis would become the Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947).

Samuelson was the wunderkind of the Harvard generation of 1930s, where he studied under Joseph Schumpeter, Wassily Leontief, Gottfried Haberler, Alvin Hansen and (his mathematical mentor) Edwin Bidwell Wilson.  Samuelson had a prodigious grasp of economic theory which has since become legendary (an unconfirmed anecdote has it that at the end of Samuelson's dissertation defense, Schumpeter turned to Leontief and asked, "Well, Wassily, have we passed?").  For unclear reasons, Samuelson was not given an offer to stay at Harvard, so he moved down the avenue to M.I.T. in 1940, and never looked back.  At that time, M.I.T. was a relative backwater in economics. Samuelson went on to build one of the century's most powerful economics departments around himself.  He was soon joined by Robert M. Solow who was to become Samuelson's sometime co-writer and partner-in-crime.

Samuelson's specific contributions to economics have been far too many to be listed here - being among the most prolific writers in economics. Samuelson's signature method of economic theory, illustrated in his Foundations (1947), seems to follow two rules which can also been said to characterize much of Neoclassical economics since: with every economic problem (1) reduce the number of variables and keep only a minimum set of simple economic relations; (2) if possible, rewrite it as a constrained optimization problem.

In microeconomics, he is responsible for the theory of revealed preference (1938, 1947).  This and his  related efforts on the question of utility measurement and integrability (1937, 1950) opened the way for future developments by Debreu, Georgescu-Roegen and Uzawa. He also introduced the use of comparative statics and dynamics through his "correspondence principle" (1947) which was applied fruitfully in his contributions to the dynamic stability of general equilibrium (1941, 1944). He also developed what are now called "Bergson-Samuelson social welfare functions" (1947, 1950, 1956) and, no less famously, Samuelson is responsible for the harnessing of "public goods" into Neoclassical theory (1954, 1955, 1958).

Samuelson was also instrumental in establishing the modern theory of theory of production.  His Foundations (1947) are responsible for the envelope theorem and the full characterization of the cost function.  He also made important contributions to the theory of technical progress (1972).   His work on the theory of capital is also well known, if contentious.  He demonstrated one of the first remarkable "Non-Substitution" theorems (1951) and, in his famous paper with Solow (1953), initiated the analysis of dynamic Leontief systems. This work was famously reiterated in his famous 1958 volume on linear programming with Robert Dorfman and Robert Solow, wherein we also find a clear introduction to the "turnpike" conjecture of linear von Neumann systems.  Samuelson was also Joan Robinson's main adversary in the Cambridge Capital Controversy - introducing the "surrogate" production function (1962), and then subsequently (and graciously) relenting (1966).

In international trade theory, he is responsible for the Stolper-Samuelson Theorem (1941) and, independently of Lerner, the Factor Price Equalization theorem (1948, 1949, 1953) as well as (finally) resolving the age-old "transfer problem" relating terms of trade and capital flows as well as the Marxian transformation problem (1971) and other issues in Classical economics (1957, 1978).

In macroeconomics, Samuelson's multiplier-accelerator macrodynamic model (1939) is justly famous, as is his presentation of the Phillips Curve (1960) to the world. He is also famous for popularizing Allais's "overlapping generations" model which has since found many applications in macroeconomics and monetary theory. In many ways, his work on speculative prices (1965) effectively anticipates the efficient markets hypothesis in finance theory. His work on diversification (1967) and the "lifetime portfolio" (1969) is also well known.

Paul Samuelson's many contributions to Neoclassical economic theory were recognized with a Nobel Memorial prize in 1970.   

 

  


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Major Works of Paul A. Samuelson

  • "Some Aspects of the Pure Theory of Capital", 1937, QJE.
  • "A Note on Measurement of Utility", 1937, RES.
  • "A Note on the Pure Theory of Consumer's Behaviour", 1938, Economica.
  • "Numerical Representation of Ordered Classifications and the Concept of Utility", 1938, RES.
  • "Interaction Between the Multiplier Analysis and the Principle of Acceleration", 1939, RES.
  • "The Stability of Equilibrium: Comparative statics and dynamics", 1941, Econometrica.
  • "Protection and Real Wages", with Wolfgang F. Stolper, 1941, RES.
  • "Constancy of the Marginal Utility of Income", 1942, in Lange et al, editors, Studies in Mathematical Economics.
  • "The Relation Between Hicksian Stability and True Dynamic Stability", 1944, Econometrica.
  • Foundations of Economic Analysis, 1947.
  • "Some Implications of Linearity", 1947, Econometrica [cwls]
  • "Consumption Theory in Terms of Revealed Preference", 1948, Economica
  • Economics: An introductory analysis, 1948.
  • "International Trade and the Equalisation of Factor Prices", 1948, EJ.
  • "International Factor-Price Equalisation Once Again", 1949, EJ.
  • "The Problem of Integrability in Utility Theory", 1950, Economica.
  • "Probability and the Attempts to Measure Utility", 1950, Economic Review.
  • "Evaluation of Real National Income", 1950, Oxford EP.
  • "Abstract of a Theorem Concerning Substitutability in Open Leontief Models", 1951, in Koopmans, editor, Activity Analysis of Production and Allocation.
  • "Economic Theory and Mathematics: An appraisal", 1952, AER [cwls]
  • "Spatial Price Equilibrium and Linear Programming", 1952, AER.
  • "Prices of Factors and Goods in General Equilibrium", 1953, RES.
  • "Consumption Theorems in Terms of Overcompensation Rather than Indifference Comparisons", 1953, Economica.
  • "Balanced Growth under Constant Returns to Scale", with R.M. Solow, 1953, Econometrica.
  • "Utility, Preference and Probability", 1953, Econometrie.
  • "The Pure Theory of Public Expenditure", 1954, REStat. [pdf]
  • "Diagrammatic Exposition of a Theory of Public Expenditure", 1954, REStat.
  • "Social Indifference Curves", 1956, QJE.
  • "A Complete Capital Model Involving Heterogeneous Capital Goods", with R.M. Solow, 1956, QJE.
  • "Wages and Interest: A modern dissection of Marxian economic models", 1957, AER.
  • "An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Contrivance of Money", 1958, JPE.
  • Linear Programming and Economic Analysis with R.Dorfman and R.M. Solow, 1958.
  • "Aspects of Public Expenditure Theory", 1958, REStat.
  • "Reply to Lerner", 1959, JPE
  • "Analytical Aspects of Anti-Inflation Policy", with R.M. Solow, 1960, AER.
  • "Efficient Programs of Capital Accumulation in Terms of the Calculus of Variations", 1960, in Arrow, Karlin and Suppes, editors, Mathematical Models in Social Science.
  • "Parable and Realism in Capital Theory: The surrogate production function", 1962, RES.
  • "Risk and Uncertainty: A fallacy of large numbers", 1963, Scientia [pdf]
  • "Proof that Properly Anticipated Prices Fluctuate Randomly", 1965, Industrial Management Review.
  • "Rational Theory of Warrant Pricing", 1965, Industrial Management Review.
  • "A Theory of Induced Innovation along Kennedy-Weizsacker Lines", 1965, REStat.
  • "Using Full Duality to Show that Simultaneously Additive Direct and Indirect Utilities Implies Unitary Price Elasticity of Demand", 1965, Econometrica.
  • "A Catenary Turnpike Theorem Involving Consumption and the Golden Rule", 1965, AER.
  • "Economic Forecasting and Science", 1965, Michigan Quarterly Rev  (extracts)
  • "The Non-Switching Theorem is False, with D.Levhari, 1966, QJE.
  • "A Summing Up", 1966, QJE.
  • "The Pasinetti Paradox in Neoclassical and More General Models", with F. Modigliani, 1966, RES.
  • Collected Scientific Papers, five volumes,1966-86.
  • "The Monopolistic Competition Revolution", 1967, in R.E. Kuenne, editor, Monpolistic competition, studies in impact: Essays in honor of Edward H. Chamberlin.
  • "General Proof that Diversification Pays", 1967, J of Finance and Quantitative Analysis.
  • "What Classical and Neoclassical Monetary Theory Really Was", 1968, Canadian JE.
  • "Lifetime Portfolio Selection by Dynamic Stochastic Programming", 1969, REStat.
  • "The Fundamental Approximation Theorem of Portfolio Analysis in Terms of Means, Variances and Higher Moments", 1970, RES.
  • "Understanding the Marxian Notion of Exploitation: A summary of the so-called transformation problem between Marxian values and competitive prices", 1971, JEL.
  • "An exact Hume-Ricardo-Marshall model of international trade", 1971, JIE
  • "Unification Theorem for the Two Basic Dualities of Homothetic Demand Theory", 1972, Proceedings of NAS.
  • "Maximum Principles in Analytical Economics", 1972, AER. [nobel]
  • "Is the Rent-Collector Worthy of His Full Hire?", 1974, EEJ [pdf]
  • "Marx as a Mathematical economist", 1974, in Horwich and Samuelson, editors, Trade, Stability and Macroeconomics.
  • "Complementarity: An essay on the 40th Anniversary of the Hicks-Allen Revolution in Demand Theory", 1974, JEL.
  • "Remembrances of Frisch", 1974, Europ ER
  • "The Transformation of Values: What Marx'really' meant: rejoinder: Merlin Unclothed, a final word", 1974, JEL
  • "Fallacy of the log-normal approximation to optimal portfolio decision-making over many periods", with R.C. Merton, 1974, J of Financial Econ
  • "Lessons from the Current Economic Expansion", 1974, AER
  • "Optimum Social Security in a Life-Cycle Growth Model", 1975, IER
  • "Steady-State and Transient Relations: A Reply on Reswitching", 1975, QJE
  • The Balanced-Budget Multiplier: A case study in the sociology and psychology of scientific discovery", 1975, HOPE
  • "Trade Pattern Reversals in Time-Phased Ricardian Systems of Intertemporal Efficiency", 1975, JIE
  • "The Optimum Growth Rate of Population", 1975, IER
  • "Seymour Harris as a Political Economist", 1976, REStat
  • "Optimality of Sluggist Predictors under Ergodic Probabilities", 1976, IER
  • "Limited Liability, Short Selling, Bounded Utility, and Infinite-Variance Stable Distributions", 1976, J of Finance and Quantitative Analysis
  • "Is Real-World Price a Tale Told by the Idiot of Chance?", 1976, RES
  • "Alvin Hansen as a Creative Economic Theorist", 1976, QJE
  • "St. Petersburg Paradoxes: Defanged, dissected and historically described", 1977, JEL
  • "Correcting the Ricardo Error Spotted in Harry Johnson's Maiden Paper", 1977, QJE
  • "Reaffirming the Existence of 'Reasonable' Bergson-Samuelson Social Welfare Functions", 1977, Economica
  • "The Canonical Classical Model of Political Economy", 1978, JEL.
  • "Comparative Advantage, Trade, and Payments in a Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods" with R. Dornbusch and S. Fischer, 1978, AER
  • "Free trade's intertemporal Pareto-optimality", 1978, JIE
  • "Mazimizing and Biology", 1978, Econ Inquiry
  • "Interest rate equalization and nonequalization by trade in Leontief-Sraffa models", 1978, JIE
  • "Paul Douglas's Measurement of Production Functions and Marginal Productivities", 1979, JPE
  • "Noise and Signal in Debates among Classical Economists: A reply:, 1980, JEL
  • "Hecksher-Ohlin Trade Theory with a Continuum of Goods" with R. Dornbusch and S. Fischer, 1980, QJE
  • "Bertil Ohlin 1899-1979", 1981, Scand JE
  • "Thunen at Two Hundred", 1983, JEL
  • "1983: Marx, Keynes and Schumpeter", 1983, EEJ [pdf]
  • "Unattainability of Integrability and Definiteness Conditions in the General Case of Demand for Money and Goods" with R. Sato, 1984, AER
  • "Second Thoughts on Analytical Income Comparisons", 1984, EJ
  • "Thermodynamic theory as mathematical economics could have discovered it", 1985, Mathem Soc Sciences
  • "Modes of Thought in Economics and Biologiy", 1985, AER
  • "Theory of Optimal Taxation", 1986, JPubE
  • "L'économie mondiale à la fin du siècle", 1986, Revue française d'économie [pers]
  • "Out of the Closet: A program for the Whig history of economic science", 1987, JHET
  • "Sraffian Economics", 1987, in J. Eatwell, M.Milgate and P. Newman, editors, New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics
  • "Keeping Whig History Honest", 1988, JHET
  • "The Keynes-Hansen-Samuelson multiplier-accelerator model of secular stagnation", 1988, Japan and World Economy
  • "How a certain internal consistency entails the expected utility dogma", 1988, J of Risk & Unc
  • "The Passing of the Guard in Economics", 1988, EEJ [pdf]
  • "Robert Solow: An Affectionate Portrait", 1989, JEP [aea]
  • "Ricardo was Right!", 1989, Scand JE.
  • "The Long Term Case for Equities", 1989, J of Portfolio Mgmt
  • "Revisionist Findings on Sraffa", 1989, in K. Bharadwaj and B. Schefold, editors, Essays in Honor of Piero Sraffa [2000 reprint pdf]
  • "A Revisionist view of von Neumann's growth models" 1989, in M. Dore, S. Chakravarty and R Goodwin, editors, John von Neumann and Modern Economics
  • "Extirpating Error Contamination Concerning the Post-Keynesian Anti-Pasinetti Equilibrium", 1991, Oxford EP
  • "Sraffa's Other Leg", 1991, EJ
  • "Leontief's 'the economy as a circular flow': An introduction", 1991, SCED
  • "On the Historiography of Economics: A Correspondence" with Don Patinkin and Mark Blaug, 1991, JHET
  • "Factor-Price Equalization by Trade in Joint and Non-joint Production", 1992, Rev Int Econ
  • "Marx on Rent: A failure to transform correctly", 1992, JHET
  • "The Capital Asset Pricing Model with Diverse Holding Periods" with Haim Levy, 1992, Manag Science
  • "Graduated Income Taxation, Which Reduces Inequality, Leaves Pareto's Coefficient Invariant: A Pseudo-paradox That Debunks Pareto's Coefficient", 1992, JEP
  • ""Altruism as a Problem Involving Group versus Individual Selection in Economics and Biology", 1993, AER
  • "Gustav Cassel's Scientific Innovations: Claims and Realities", 1993, HOPE
  • "Two Classics: Böhm-Bawerk's Positive Theory and Fisher's Rate of Interest Through Modern Prisms", 1994, JHET
  • "Richard Kahn: His Welfare Economics and Lifetime Achievement", 1994, CambJE
  • "Facets of Balassa-Samuelson Thirty Years Later", 1994, Rev Int Ec
  • "The To-Be-Expected Angst Created for Economists by Mathematics", 1994, EEJ [pdf]
  • "The Classical Classical Fallacy", 1994, JEL
  • "How can monetary policy be improved? Discussion" Boston FRB [pdf]
  • "Some Uneasiness with the Coase Theorem", 1995, Japan and World Econ
  • "Reminiscences of Dudley Dillard",1995, EJ [pdf]
  • "Gottfried Haberler, 1900-1995", 1996, EJ
  • "Credo of a Lucky Textbook Author", 1997, JEP [pdf]
  • "How Foundations Came to Be", 1998, JEL
  • "Report Card on Sraffa at 100", 1998, EJHET
  • "Summing up on Business Cycles", 1998, FRB Boston [pdf]
  • "Our Wassily: W.W. Leontief (1905-1999)" [draft pdf]
  • "Sraffa's Hits and Misses", 2000, in H. Kurz, editor, Critical Essays on Piero Sraffa's Legacy in Economics [pdf]
  • "Economic History and Mainstream Economic Analysis", 2001, Rivista di storia economica
  • "A Modern Post-Mortem on Böhm's Capital Theory: Its vital normative flaw shared by Presraffian mainstream capital theory", 2001, JHET
  • "On just how great 'great books' are", 2001, EJHET
  • "Is there life after a Nobel coronation?", 2002 [nbl]
  • "A Ricardo-Sraffa Paradigm Comparing Gains from Trade in Inputs and Finished Goods", 2001, JEL
  • "How I Became an Economist", 2003 [nbl]
  • "Reflections on the Schumpeter I knew well", 2003, J Evol Econ
  • "Where Ricardo and Mill Rebut and Confirm Arguments of Mainstream Economists Supporting Globalization", 2004, JEP [aea]
  • "Abram Bergson, Economist", 2005, EJ
  • "An Elizabethan Age for Pure Trade Theory: 1925-55", 2005, Rev Int Ec
  • "Franco: A mind never at rest", 2005, BNLQR [psl]
  • (Editor, with W.A. Barnett) Inside the Economist’s Mind: The history of modern economic thought, as explained by those who produced it [intro pdf]
  • "A few remembrances of Friedrich von Hayek (1899-1992)", 2009, JEBO

 


HET

 

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Resources on Paul Samuelson

  • Portrait of Samuelson as a Young Man
  • Samuelson bio at MIT economics
  • 1970 Nobel Memorial prize: press release facts, autobiography, lecture
  • Samuelson papers at IDEAS
  • Samuelson papers at NBER
  • Samuelson obituary at MIT news, 2009.
  • Samuelson obituary at Univ Chicago News, 2009
  • Samuelson obituary at NY Times, 2009
  • Samuelson obituary at Economist, 2009
  • Samuelson obituary at WSJ, 2009
  • Samuelson obituary at WSJ blog
  • Samuelson obituary at NPR
  • Samuelson obituary in Telegraph, 2009
  • "Paul Samuelson, RIP" editorial by Paul Krugman, 2009, NYT
  • "The Incomparable Economist", post by Paul Krugman, NYT blog
  • "Remembering Samuelson" article by Edward L. Glaeser, WSJ
  • "Postscript: Paul Samuleson" by John Cassidy, New Yorker [online]
  • "Paul Anthony Samuleson, Historian of Economic Thought" by S.G. Medema and A.M. Waterman, 2011, History of Econ Ideas [pdf]
  • "Paul Samuelson's Legacy" by Avinash Dixit, 2012 [pdf]
  • "Paul Samuelson's departure from Harvard to MIT" by J. Backhouse [pdf]
  • Ford/MIT Nobel Laureate Lecture 2000 by Samuelson, Solow and Modigliani [mit]
  • "Interview with Paul Samuelson" by W.A. Barnett, 2004, Macro Dyn [pdf]
  • "Paul Samuelson's contributions to international economics", by K. Rogoff, 2005 [pdf]
  • "The Perseverance of Paul Samuelson's Economics " by Mark Skousen, 1997, JEP [aea]
  • "Play it Again, Samuelson", 1997, The Economist [online]
  • "An Interview with Paul Samuelson" by Conor Clark, The Atlantic [online: pt1, pt.2]
  • "Interview with Paul Samuelson: Don't expect recovery before 2012 - with 8% inflation", online at NPQ, 2009
  • "After the Revolution: Paul Samuelson and the textbook Keynesian model", by Kerry Pearce and Kevin D. Hoover, 1995, HOPE [pdf]
  • "The Political Economy of Textbook Writing : Paul Samuelson and the making of the first ten editions of Economics (1945-1976)", by Yann Giraud, 2013 [pdf]
  • "Paul Samuelson and the obscure origins of the financial crisis", Jeremy Bernstein, NYRB [online]
  • "Play It Again: Paul Samuelson and the Spending Multiplier" by Mark Lovewell
  • Photo of Mundell, Samuelson and Deardorff
  • Photo of Stolper and Samuelson
  • Samuelson page at bio.com (ad-heavy)
  • Samuelson Page at Nobel Prize Internet Archive
  • Samuelson entry at Jewish virtual library
  • Samuelson entry at Concise Encycl of Economics, Liberty Fund
  • Samuelson entry at Britannica
  • Wikipedia

 

 
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