As a teacher and builder of the School of Economics at the University of Cambridge , he trained and influenced many Cambridge economists who went on to take chairs of economics around the world. His work covered various fields of economics, particularly welfare economics , but also included Business cycle theory, unemployment, public finance , index numbers , and measurement of national output. He reluctantly served on several public committees, including the Cunliffe Committee and the Royal Commission on Income tax. He won a scholarship to Harrow School where he was in Newlands House and became the first modern head of school. The school's economics society is named The Pigou Society in his honour.
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WHEN a man sets out upon any course of inquiry, the object of his search may be either light or fruit—either knowledge for its own sake or knowledge for the sake of good things to which it leads.
In various fields of study these two ideals play parts of varying importance. In the appeal made to our interest by nearly all the great modern sciences some stress is laid both upon the light-bearing and upon the fruit-bearing quality, but the proportions of the blend are different in different sciences. At one end of the scale stands the most general science of all, metaphysics, the science of reality.
Most nearly akin to the metaphysician is the student of the ultimate problems of physics. The corpuscular theory of matter is, hitherto, a bearer of light alone. Here, however, the other aspect is present in promise; for speculations about the structure of the atom may lead one day to the discovery of practical means for dissociating matter and for rendering available to human use the overwhelming resources of intra-atomic energy. In the science of biology the fruit-bearing aspect is more prominent.
Recent studies upon heredity have, indeed, the highest theoretical interest; but no one can reflect upon that without at the same time reflecting upon the striking practical results to which they have already led in the culture of wheat, and upon the far-reaching, if hesitating, promise that they are beginning to offer for the better culture of mankind. In the sciences whose subject-matter is man as an individual there is the same variation of blending as in the natural sciences proper.
In psychology the theoretic interest is dominant—particularly on that side of it which gives data to metaphysics; but psychology is also valued in some measure as a basis for the practical art of education.
In human physiology, on the other hand, the theoretic interest, though present, is subordinate, and the science has long been valued mainly as a basis for the art of medicine. Last of all we come to those sciences that deal, not with individual men, but with groups of men; that body of infant sciences which some writers call sociology. Light on the laws that lie behind development in history, even light upon particular facts, has, in the opinion of many, high value for its own sake.
But there will, I think, be general agreement that in the sciences of human society, be their appeal as bearers of light never so high, it is the promise of fruit and not of light that chiefly merits our regard. The knowledge of it is valuable, only as it leads us to form just calculations with regard to the future. A history which does not serve this purpose, though it may be filled with battles, treaties and commotions, is as useless as the series of turnpike tickets collected by Sir Matthew Mite.
That is true of all social sciences, but especially true of economics. One who desired knowledge of man apart from the fruits of knowledge would seek it in the history of religious enthusiasm, of martyrdom, or of love; he would not seek it in the market-place. Wonder, Carlyle declared, is the beginning of philosophy. It is not wonder, but rather the social enthusiasm which revolts from the sordidness of mean streets and the joylessness of withered lives, that is the beginning of economic science.
The only position for which the intellect is primarily adapted is to be the servant of the social sympathies. This book is available through Transaction Publishers, Inc. Direct all requests for permissions and copyrights to Transaction Publishers, Inc. IN preparing this revised third edition, I have removed a number of minor errors and have made, I hope, some improvements in analysis and exposition.
I have also tried, so far as possible, to bring my references to facts and laws up to date. The main changes in the structure of the book are as follows. The following Chapters are new: Part I. Chapter XI. The first five divisions of Appendix III. In these divisions I have made free use of an article entitled. The scheme of the book, which is displayed in more detail in the Analytical Table of Contents, is as follows. In Part I. Part II. In Part IV. The two Parts contained in the first edition, which discussed respectively the Variability of the National Dividend and Public Finance, are omitted from this, as they were from the second edition.
I have done my best, by restricting as far as possible the use of technical terms, by relegating specially abstract discussions to Appendices, and by summarising the main drift of the argument in an Analytical Table of Contents, to render what I have to say as little difficult as may be. But it would be idle to pretend that the book is other than a severe one.
In part, no doubt, the severity is due to defects of exposition. But in part also it is due to the nature of the problems studied. It is sometimes imagined that economic questions can be adjudicated upon without special preparation. In reality the subject is an exceedingly difficult one, and cannot, without being falsified, be made to appear easy.
In publishing so comprehensive a book, I have had to face one somewhat special difficulty. I do not think, however, that the impossibility of being completely up to date in a world of continuous change matters very greatly.
For the illustrations I have used are not brought forward for their own sake. The service I ask of them is to throw light on principles, and that purpose can be performed as well by an arrangement or a fact that lapsed a year or two ago as by one that is still intact.
I would add one word for any student beginning economic study who may be discouraged by the severity of the effort which the study, as he will find it exemplified here, seems to require of him. The complicated analyses which economists endeavour to carry through are not mere gymnastic. They are instruments for the bettering of human life.
The misery and squalor that surround us, the injurious luxury of some wealthy families, the terrible uncertainty overshadowing many families of the poor—these are evils too plain to be ignored. By the knowledge that our science seeks it is possible that they may be restrained. Out of the darkness light! Book Cover. First Pub. Date Publisher London: Macmillan and Co. Date Comments 4th edition. Table of Contents. FIRST
The Economics of Welfare
La economía del bienestar