Edited by Ilde Rizzo and Anna Mignosa
Chapter 25: ‘Adam Smith has returned to live in Edinburgh’: a case study
I believe that a current experience of mine in the practicalities of obtaining heritage status for an eighteenth-century building can bring home to the reader the problems that will be encountered in convincing policy makers that economists can have a crucial role to play in reaching sensible decisions. As well, hoping to add to the arcana of case studies, the narrative endeavours to show how the usefulness of economic modeling depends on the number of ‘stakeholders’ with a recognized role in the negotiations that lead to an eventual decision by the public authorities concerned. The building is of special significance to economists and social scientists generally. It is Panmure House, just off the ‘Royal Mile’ in Edinburgh and the residence of Adam Smith for the last 12 years of his life. Smith moved into Panmure House, the unoccupied residence of a prominent Scots landowner, in 1778, that is within 2 years of the publication of The Wealth of Nations. He had just become a Commissioner of Customs and Excise, which required his residence in Edinburgh. The house was within walking distance of his office, lying at the foot of the Royal Mile and close by the residences of some of the most prominent figures in what has become known as The Scottish Enlightenment. They had resisted the lure of moving to the up-and-coming fashionable area of the Edinburgh New Town, which today is regarded by heritage pundits as one of the world’s most important examples of late-eighteenth-century architecture.
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