Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 66: Albert Aftalion (1874–1956)
Albert Aftalion was born in Bulgaria (Roustchouk) in 1874 into a Jewish Sephardi family. He came to France in 1876 when his parents decided to settle in Nancy. He completed a doctorate in law at the University of Paris, where he was appointed as “Chargé de conference” (lecturer) and embarked on a doctorate in political economy (defended in 1899) on the economics of Sismondi. Somewhat surprisingly, at this time, his preoccupation with Sismondi was driven only by his interest in poverty in relation to the industrializing countries, and in interrogating the objectives of political economy more widely (Demals 2002b). In 1900, he moved to the University of Lille and in 1901, after success at the French national academic competition, the “Concours national d’agrégation”, he was appointed “Professeur adjoint”. He went on to take up a chair in Political Economy and the History of Economic Doctrines in 1906 in the same university. In 1923 he accepted a chair in Statistics at the University of Paris, and in 1934 he succeeded Charles Rist as Professor of Political Economy. Throughout his successful academic career he was deeply respected by his peers. However, during the dark episode in French academia in 1940 (the Jew status laws were enacted on 3 October, 1940), he was dismissed by the Paris University Council (Delmas 2002a). He was not allowed back into the university until 1944, and in 1946 he retired. Aftalion was one of the most influential French economists in the first half of the twentieth...
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