Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 108: Paul Anthony Samuelson (1915–2009)
Life Paul Anthony Samuelson was born in Gary, a steel town near Chicago, on 15 May 1915. His father ran a small pharmacy. During his childhood, Samuelson saw the plight of the workers labouring in the steel works without any welfare provision whatsoever. As a young man in the early 1930s, he was able to observe the effects of the Great Depression, and this had a profound impact on him and on his lifelong view of the world. In 1932, aged 16, Samuelson began his studies as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago. Aaron Director, Jacob Viner, Frank Knight and Henry Schultz were among his teachers. After his BA, he went on to study at Harvard University with a scholarship. At the age of 21, in 1936, he published his first article in a scientific journal. Shortly afterwards, he was elected Junior Fellow at Harvard University, which allowed him to conduct research freely for three years. During this time, he published a number of further essays, completing his dissertation in 1941, which he rewrote and published as Foundations of Economic Analysis after the war. In 1938 he married his fellow student Marion Crawford, whom he had met while at university. They had six children together. Among Samuelson’s teachers at Harvard University were the economists Alvin Hansen, Wassily Leontief and Joseph Schumpeter, as well as the mathematician and physicist Edwin Bidwell Wilson. Abram Bergson, Lloyd Metzler and James Tobin were among his fellow students. Despite his brilliance, which was obvious...
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