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Retrospectives: Say's Law


  • William J. Baumol


What is perhaps most curious about 'Say's law' is the continuing disagreement on its substance and to whom it should be credited. John Maynard Keynes summarized the law as 'supply creates its own demand' but it is now generally agreed that Keynes did not get it quite right. The author has been unable to ascertain who coined the term 'Say's law' but it appears to be a twentieth century appellation, preceding Keynes's use. John-Baptiste Say was certainly among the earlier writers to discuss the topic at length but so far as the author can determine, none of Say's contemporaries--including Say himself--credits him with having been first to enunciate its principles.

Suggested Citation

  • William J. Baumol, 1999. "Retrospectives: Say's Law," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 195-204, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:13:y:1999:i:1:p:195-204 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.13.1.195

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mark Blaug, 1997. "Say's Law of Markets: What Did It Mean and Why Should We Care?," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 231-235, Spring.
    2. Baumol, William J, 1977. "Say's (at Least) Eight Laws, or What Say and James Mill May Really Have Meant," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 44(174), pages 145-161, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pies, Ingo, 2010. "Theoretische Grundlagen demokratischer Wirtschafts- und Gesellschaftspolitik: Der Beitrag von William Baumol," Discussion Papers 2010-7, Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Chair of Economic Ethics.
    2. Kakarot-Handtke, Egmont, 2015. "Essentials of Constructive Heterodoxy: Say’s Law," MPRA Paper 61670, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Mehmet BÖLÜKBAÞ, 2016. "The Effects of Economic Policies in Turkey: An Application for the Period After 2000," Journal of Social and Administrative Sciences, KSP Journals, vol. 3(4), pages 315-322, December.
    4. Perala, Maiju, 2003. "'Looking at the Other Side of the Coin': The Relationship between Classical Growth and Early Development Theories," WIDER Working Paper Series 038, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    5. Scott Gottlieb, 2013. "How Obamacare Will Re-Shape the Practice of Medicine," NFI Policy Briefs 2013-PB-06, Indiana State University, Scott College of Business, Networks Financial Institute.
    6. Kakarot-Handtke, Egmont, 2013. "Say’s Law: A Rigorous Restatement," MPRA Paper 52550, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B12 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Classical (includes Adam Smith)
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals


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