Retrospectives: The Origins of the Representative Agent
AbstractThis paper examines Alfred Marshall's invention of the representative firm. Marshall first used the representative firm in order to describe an industry supply curve for an industry with heterogeneous firms. Despite Marshall's limited use of the notion, the representative agent was extensively criticized as an ephemeral, useless construct that was unable to account for economic growth and that ignored important heterogeneities. The criticisms succeeded in banishing the representative agent from economics. These initial criticisms are also shown to apply to modern uses of the representative agent as well.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.
Volume (Year): 10 (1996)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- B13 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Neoclassical through 1925 (Austrian, Marshallian, Walrasian, Stockholm School)
- D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
- B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
- B21 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Microeconomics
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