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Paul Anthony Samuelson Biography

(1915– ), Economics, General Theory, Foundations of Economic Analysis, Newsweek, Economics from the Heart, The New Palgrave

American economist, born in Gary, Indiana, educated at Chicago and Harvard Universities, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economics (1970). Samuelson is known to generations of students as the author of a best-selling introductory textbook, Economics (1st edition 1948). He spent his academic career as Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a student in the 1930s, Keynes's General Theory came to him as a breath of fresh air. With the possible exception of Alvin Hansen (one of his teachers), Samuelson was chiefly responsible for introducing generations of economists in the USA to their own brand of Keynesianism—he called it the ‘neo-classical synthesis’ (namely, a means of combining Keynesian arguments with older, more orthodox ones, in a manner which made both more acceptable). Samuelson was also a great proponent of the use of mathematical methods in economics, exemplified in his Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947). He contributed a regular three-weekly column for Newsweek between 1966 and 1981, selections from which were collected in Economics from the Heart (1983). His scientific papers are collected in five volumes; there is an assessment of his life and work in The New Palgrave (1987).

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