A peculiar Archaeology: Searching for Mr. Giffen’s Behaviour
AbstractIt has been claimed that references to ‘Giffen behaviour’ constituted a single research project, driven by attempts to establish whether an initial ‘conjecture’ by Alfred Marshall had empirical validity. There is, however, no stable basis for that claim, in part because Marshall produced contradictory accounts of Giffen behaviour and, while he referred to the statistician Robert Giffen as the source for his different accounts, Giffen rejected a key assumption made by Marshall. Moreover, by the mid-1920s, discussion of an upward-sloping demand curve attached no particular significance to an illustration referenced by Marshall because other and quite different explanations were regarded as equally important. The formulation of the Irish famine Giffen exemplar in P.A. Samuelson’s Economics textbook illustrates how Giffen behaviour was stabilised as the single possible exception to ‘the law of demand’ in the 1960s.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Monash University, Department of Economics in its series Monash Economics Working Papers with number 39-12.
Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2012
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Postal: Department of Economics, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia
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