Secret Origins of Modern Microeconomics: Dupuit and the Engineers

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Overview

How did contemporary microeconomic theory emerge? Who were its chief architects? Conventional wisdom points largely to the work of Alfred Marshall (1842-1924) and his colleagues in England in the late nineteenth century. In this highly original and important contribution to the history of economic thought, Robert Ekelund and Robert Hébert convincingly argue that the intellectual tradition of microeconomic inquiry was initiated by members of the Corps des Ingénieurs des Ponts et Chaussées (French corps of state civil engineers), most notably Jules Dupuit (1804-66). Using documents previously unavailable in English, the authors present a cohesive and original picture of French economic thought that solidly documents the contributions of Dupuit and his colleagues. This is a seminal work about the foundations of modern microeconomics.

"A very fine piece of work that provides material I have never seen before, is well written, and has undoubtable merits."—William Baumol, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University

"By bringing to the forefront the achievements of French engineer Jules Dupuit, this work changes our view of the history of microeconomics. Secret Origin of Modern Microeconomics is a commentary on our discipline's mythology of origins: it reminds us that, in the construction and maintenance of canonical authority, the recoginition of founding fathers requires simultaneous, often subtle, gestures of exclusion."—Philippe Fontaine, école Normale Supèrieure de Cachan

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What People Are Saying

William Barmol
A very fine piece of work that provides material I have never seen before, is well written, and has undoubtable merits.
— William Baumol, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, NYU
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226199993
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 468
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert B. Ekelund Jr. is the Catherine and Edward Lowder Eminent Scholar Emeritus of Economics at Auburn University. He is the author of numerous books, including The Marketplace of Christianity with Robert D. Tollison and Robert F. Hébert.

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Table of Contents

Preface
1 The Protohistory of Microeconomics 1
2 The Sociology of Economics in Nineteenth-Century France 23
3 The Calculators 40
4 The Breakthrough in Utility and Demand Theory 65
5 Refinements of Utility and Demand Theory 91
6 Costs, Quality, Entrepreneurship, and Competitive Market Adjustments 121
7 Monopoly and Marginal Cost Pricing 159
8 Price Discrimination 1: Origins of Static Neoclassical Theory 192
9 Price Discrimination 2: Self-Selection and Second-Degree Discrimination 217
10 Transport Costs and Spatial Competition 241
11 The Empirical Economics of the Engineers 272
12 Dupuit on the Integration of Theory, Institutions, and Policy 306
13 The Legacy of Dupuit and the Econo-Engineers 339
Notes 361
References 435
Author Index 459
Subject Index 465
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