John Rae (economist)


John Rae (economist)

John Rae (1796, Footdee, Aberdeen – 1872, New York), Scottish/Canadian economist, was an adventurous Scotsman who emigrated to Canada in 1822, worked for a long time as a schoolmaster and finally ended up as a medical inspector in Hawaii.

He studied medicine for a number of years at Edinburgh University, but was probably forced to give up his studies due to financial problems of his father [ James (1965), p. 14] . He emigrated and worked in different parts of Canada, and in very different occupations, until 1849, when his wife died of cholera. He then moved on to California that attracted many adventurers in the "Gold rush". In 1851 he settled on the Hawaiian island of Maui, where he was appointed a Medical Agent for the Board of Health, involved in mass vaccination schemes against smallpox.

His contribution to economics

In spite of some noteworthy contributions in such diverse areas as geology, linguistics, epidemiology, history and sociology, he is mainly remembered for his 1834 "Statement of Some New Principles on the Subject of Political Economy". He wrote this book while being engaged in the lumber trade in Godmanchester, a district in the vicinity of Montreal. As he had no formal training in economics he had to develop most of his concepts on his own. In this book Rae introduced a remarkable theory of capital, that can be characterised as proto-marginalist, and that was subsequently further developed by Böhm-Bawerk and the Austrian School.

The book was not very well received, probably because of some protectionist statements that it contained, and hardly noticed outside Canada. More than a decade later it was discovered by Nassau Senior, who used it in his lectures in Political Economy at Oxford University, and also brought it to the attention of John Stuart Mill. The latter, in his "Principles of Political Economy" (1848) mentions Rae' book in very generous terms::"(...) I can refer with equal confidence to another, though a less known work, "New Principles of Political Economy", by Dr. Rae. In no other book known to me is so much light thrown, both from principle and history, on the causes which determine the accumulation of capital" (Mill, 1848/1927, p.165, Ashley ed.) [ It was only five years later that Rae heard about this. He wrote to Mill to thank him, noting that "it is the only thing connected with that publication that has afforded me any gratification, James (1965), p. 169] As a result of the reference in Mill's treatise, Rae's book found its way into vol. XI of the "Biblioteca dell' economista", together with Ricardo's "Principles" and works by other prominent English economists [ His work appeared in this collection under the impressive title "Dimostrazione di taluni nuovi principii sull'economia politica, dimonstrante gli errori del sistemo de commercio libero, e di altre dottrine contentue nella "Richezza delli Nazioni", James (1965), p. 170] .

At the turn of the century things finally changed for the better, as the Austrian economist von Böhm-Bawerk recognised the importance of Rae's theoretical innovation. This in turn led to recognition by such prominent economists as Edgeworth, Wicksell, and Irving Fischer, who even dedicated his "Theory of Interest" (1930) to Rae (and Böhm-Bawerk). [ Fischer's dedication reads "To the memory of John Rae and Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk,who laid the foundations on which I have endeavoured to build"] .

References

ources

*Goodwin, Craufurd D.W. (1961) - "Canadian Economic Thought: The Political Economy of a Developing Nation 1814-1914", Duke University Press
*James, R. Warren (1965) - "John Rae, political economist. An account of his life and a compilation of his main writings" (2 vols.), Toronto.
*Schumpeter, Joseph Aloys (1954) - "History of Economic Analysis", New York.

External links

* [http://socserv2.socsci.mcmaster.ca/~econ/ugcm/3ll3/rae/newprin.html Full text of "Statement of Some New Principles on the Subject of Political Economy"]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • John Rae — may refer to:* John Rae (biographer), Scottish journalist and biographer of Adam Smith * John Rae (drummer) Scottish band leader, composer * John Rae (economist), Scottish economist and author of Statement of Some New Principles on the Subject of …   Wikipedia

  • Rae — may refer to:Nicknames for*Rachel *Raven *Rachelle *Rachael *Reema *Reena *Rehab *RekhaPeople (surname)*Alex Rae (born 1969), Scottish professional football (soccer) midfielder *Alexa Rae, American pornographic actress *Ashly Rae, Scottish… …   Wikipedia

  • Rae, John — ▪ American economist and physician born June 1, 1796, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland died July 12, 1872, New York, New York, U.S.       Scottish born American economist, physician, and teacher.       Rae was educated in classics, mathematics,… …   Universalium

  • John Godfrey — Infobox CanadianMP honorific prefix = The Honourable name = John Ferguson Godfrey honorific suffix = PC, MP riding = Don Valley West parliament = Canadian term start = 1993 term end = August 1 2008 predecessor = John Bosley successor = birth date …   Wikipedia

  • Robert Torrens (economist) — For his son, the colonial Premier of South Australia, see Robert Torrens. Colonel Robert Torrens (1780, Ireland – 27 May 1864) was a Royal Marines officer, political economist, MP, owner of the influential Globe newspaper and prolific writer.… …   Wikipedia

  • List of University of Edinburgh people — is a list of notable graduates and former faculty of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. The University is associated with nine Nobel Prize winners (Source: http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/edinburgh/alumni.html)Politics and… …   Wikipedia

  • Adam Smith — Infobox Philosopher region = Western Economists era = Classical economics (Modern economics) color = #B0C4DE name = Adam Smith birth = Baptised 16 June 1723 smaller| [OS: 5 June 1723] Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland death = death date and… …   Wikipedia

  • Thomas Robert Malthus — Malthus redirects here. For demon, see Malthus (demon). Thomas Robert Malthus Classical economics Thomas Robert Malthus Born February 14 …   Wikipedia

  • Westminster School — For other uses, see Westminster School (disambiguation). Westminster School Motto Dat Deus Incrementum Established 1179 (Refounded in 1560)[1] …   Wikipedia

  • Max Weber — Max Weber …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.