from Encyclopedia Britannica

Paul Samuelson, in full Paul Anthony Samuelson, (born May 15, 1915, Gary, Indiana, U.S.—died December 13, 2009, Belmont, Massachusetts), American economist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1970 for his fundamental contributions to nearly all branches of economic theory. The Swedish Royal Academies stated, when awarding the prize in 1970, that he “has done more than any other contemporary economist to raise the level of scientific analysis in economic theory.”

Samuelson was educated at the University of Chicago (B.A., 1935) and at Harvard University (Ph.D., 1941). He became a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1940. He also served as an economic adviser to the United States government.

Samuelson contributed to many areas of economic theory through powerful mathematical techniques that he employed essentially as puzzle-solving devices. Samuelson considered mathematics to be the ‘natural language’ for economists and contributed significantly to the mathematical foundations of economics with his book Foundations of Economic Analysis. His Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947) provides the basic theme of his work, with the universal nature of consumer behaviour seen as the key to economic theory. Samuelson studied such diverse fields as the dynamics and stability of economic systems, the incorporation of the theory of international trade into that of general economic equilibrium, the analysis of public goods, capital theory, welfare economics, and public expenditure. Of particular influence has been his mathematical formulation of the interaction of multiplier and accelerator effects and, in consumption analysis, his development of the theory of revealed preference.

Samuelson’s Foundations of Economic Analysis

Samuelson’s lucid prose contributed to the popularity of his publications. His introductory textbook, Economics (1948), is considered a classic. The Collected Scientific Papers of Paul A. Samuelson was published in five volumes between 1966 and 1986. Samuelson was a columnist for Newsweek from 1966 to 1981. He was the coauthor of the textbooks Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, both first published in 1989.

Samuelson’s Economics, the best selling economics textbook of all time

Key works

1939 «Interactions between the multiplier analysis and the principle of acceleration», Review of Economics and Statistics, 21 (2), pp. 75-78. 

1941 (with Stolper W.), «Protection and Real Wages», The Review of Economic Studies, 9 (1), pp. 58-73. 

1946 Foundations of Economic Analysis, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

1948 Economics: An Introductory Text, McGraw-Hill, New York.

1954 «The Pure Theory of Public Expenditure», Review of Economics and Statistics, 36 (4), pp. 387–89

1958, «An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Social Contrivance of Money», Journal of Political Economy, 66 (6), pp. 467-482.

1960, (with Solow, R.M.), «Analytical Aspects of Anti-inflation Policy», American Economic Review, 50 (2), pp. 177-194

1987 The Collected Scientific Papers of Paul Samuelson, 3 Volumes, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. (contains 388 papers).

Link to Paul A. Samuelson page in the History of Economic Thought Website

Link to Paul A. Samuelson article in the EconLib Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

Link to Wikipedia article on Paul Samuelson page on Paul A. Samuelson

Link to New York Times obituary of Paul A. Samuelson

Link to Time obituary of Paul A. Samuelson