A peculiar Archaeology: Searching for Mr. Giffen’s Behaviour
It 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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- Gavin Kennedy, 2010. "Paul Samuelson and the invention of the modern economics of the Invisible Hand," History of Economic Ideas, Fabrizio Serra Editore, Pisa - Roma, vol. 18(3), pages 105-120.
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