Léon Walras

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Marie-Esprit-Léon Walras (December 16, 1834 in Évreux, Eure - January 5, 1910 in Clarens, near Montreux, Switzerland) was a French mathematical economist associated with the creation of the general equilibrium theory.


Life and career

Walras was the son of French economist Auguste Walras. His father was a school administrator and not a professional economist, yet his economic thinking had a profound effect on his son. He found the value of goods by setting their scarcity relative to human wants.

Walras also inherited his father's interest in social reform. Much like the Fabians, Walras called for the nationalization of land, believing that land’s value would always increase and that rents from that land would be sufficient to support the nation without taxes.

Another of Walras’ influences was Augustin Cournot, a former schoolmate of his father. Through Cournot, Walras came under the influence of French Rationalism and was introduced to the use of mathematics in economics.

Professor at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, Walras is credited for having founded what subsequently became known, under direction of his Italian disciple, the economist and sociologist Vilfredo Pareto, as the Lausanne school of economics.[citation needed]

Because for a long time most of Walras' publications were only available in French, only a relatively small section of the economics profession really became familiar with his work. This changed in the 1950s, largely due to the work of William Jaffé, the translator of Walras' main works, and the editor of his Complete Correspondence (1965).[citation needed]

Marginalist theory

Although Walras came to be regarded as one of the three leaders of the marginalist revolution, he was not familiar with the two other leading figures of marginalism, William Stanley Jevons and Carl Menger, and developed his theories independently.

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