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The Neglect of Bastiat's School by English-Speaking Economists: A Puzzle Resolved

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  • Salerno Joseph T.

    (Pace University)

Abstract

The French liberal school, the school of Frédéric Bastiat, thoroughly dominated economics in France for most of the nineteenth century. In addition, the school exercised a profound influence on the development of nineteenth-century economic theory outside France, particularly in countries such as Italy, Germany and Austria where its merits were recognized by eminent Continental marginalists including Böhm-Bawerk, Cassel, Wicksell and Pareto. In the United States, Great Britain and Australia, also, the school inspired a number of important economic theorists and movements such as William Stanley Jevons and the American catallactic tradition. Yet despite its significant international influence, the school has been almost completely neglected by Englishspeaking economists and doctrinal scholars after World War One. In this paper, I suggest that the resolution of this puzzle lies in a conjunction of peculiar institutional and doctrinal circumstances that accompanied the professionalization of economics in France, Great Britain and the United States.Lécole libérale française, celle de Frédéric Bastiat, domina totalement la pensée économique en France pendant une majeure partie du dixneuvième siècle. De plus, lécole exerça une influence profonde sur le développement de la théorie économique à lextérieur de la France, en particulier dans des pays tels que lAllemagne et lAutriche. Dans ces pays, les mérites de lécole furent reconnus par des marginalistes continentaux aussi éminents que Böhm-Bawerk, Cassel, Wicksell et Pareto. Lécole inspira aussi un nombre important déconomistes et de mouvements aux Etats-Unis, en Angleterre et en Australie tels que William Stanley Jevons et la tradition catallactique américaine. Néanmoins, en dépit de cette influence internationale, lécole a été presque totalement négligée par les économistes de langue anglaise et par les penseurs doctrinaux après la première guerre mondiale. Dans cet article, lauteur suggère que la solution à cette énigme se trouve dans la conjonction de circonstances institutionnelles et doctrinales particulières qui accompagna la professionnalisation de léconomie en France, en Grande- Bretagne et aux Etats-Unis.

Suggested Citation

  • Salerno Joseph T., 2001. "The Neglect of Bastiat's School by English-Speaking Economists: A Puzzle Resolved," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 11(2), pages 1-45, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:11:y:2001:i:2:n:13
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ekelund, Robert Jr. & Hebert, Robert F., 1973. "Public economics at the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussees: 1830-1850," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 241-256, July.
    2. Martin S. Staum, 1987. "The Institute Economists: From Physiocracy to Entrepreneurial Capitalism," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 525-550, Winter.
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