The Dissemination of Economic Ideas
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The Dissemination of Economic Ideas

Edited by Heinz D. Kurz, Tamotsu Nishizawa and Keith Tribe

This highly illuminating book marks a significant stage in our growing understanding of how the development of national traditions of economic thought has been affected by both internal and external factors.
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Chapter 6: Marshall’s Ideas on Progress: Roots and Diffusion

Katia Caldari and Tamotsu Nishizawa


Katia Caldari and Tamotsu Nishizawa 6.1 INTRODUCTION Recently it has been suggested that one of the main Marshallian concerns was economic development – ‘the high theme of economic progress’ as he called it. Progress, its ways and means, is the question that pervades all his writings, published and unpublished, his speeches, his private correspondence. Marshall was even going to publish a book on progress; this never materialized, although a number of annotations are still preserved in Cambridge. Those notes on progress are extremely interesting because they help to define the complex (and modern) idea that Marshall had of economic progress. Moreover, in those notes, Alfred Marshall effects a convergence of his principal long-lasting interests: the importance of education for the betterment of human character, the elevation of working classes and the consequent increase in national productivity; the attention given to industry and its relations (trade unions, industrial groups, noncompeting groups) and to labour and its conditions (factory environment, level of wages, kinds of work); the conception of wealth and well-being, far from having an exclusively material meaning; the importance given to the quality of life, very close to the modern idea of sustainable development; the (possible) role of government in promoting national progress (not to be meant only as economic progress). Progress is made up of several elements, all equally important: none of them can be missing to have real progress. Many of the characteristics underlined by Marshall were in fact widely shared in Cambridge and beyond. But the way in...

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