Table of Contents

Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert

Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz

Volume I contains original biographical profiles of many of the most important and influential economists from the seventeenth century to the present day. These inform the reader about their lives, works and impact on the further development of the discipline. The emphasis is on their lasting contributions to our understanding of the complex system known as the economy. The entries also shed light on the means and ways in which the functioning of this system can be improved and its dysfunction reduced. Each Handbook can be read individually and acts as a self-contained volume in its own right. It can be purchased separately or as part of a three-volume set.

Chapter 46: Francis Ysidro Edgeworth (1845–1926)

John Creedy

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought


Francis Ysidro Edgeworth (1845–1926) was a leading figure in the rapid development of economics during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth century. He held the Drummond Chair at Oxford from 1891 and was regarded as second only to the great Cambridge economist Alfred Marshall. He was a prolific and highly original author who, in a cosmopolitan age, had probably the widest correspondence with economists all over the world. For a full-length treatment of Edgeworth’s economics, see Creedy (1986), and for a biography, see Barbé (2010). He was a man of enormously wide reading and considerable linguistic skills. He was the first editor of the Economic Journal, published by the newly formed Royal Economic Society. He was President of Section F of the British Association in 1889 and 1922. He achieved eminence as a statistician as well as an economist, becoming a Guy Medallist (Gold) of the Royal Statistical Society in 1907 and was President of the Society, 1912–14. Indeed, of about 170 papers, roughly three-quarters are concerned with statistical theory. His main contributions to statistics concern work on inference and the “law of error”, the correlation coefficient, transformations (what he called “methods of translation”), and the “Edgeworth expansion”. The latter, a series expansion which provides an alternative to the Pearson family of distributions, has been widely used (particularly since the work of Sargan 1976) to improve on the central limit theorem in approximating sampling distributions. It has also been used...

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