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Edited by Jürgen G. Backhaus
Chapter 51: Wilhelm Roscher (1817–94)
51 Wilhelm Roscher (1817–94) Erich Streissler Life and work Wilhelm Roscher was born in 1817 in Hannover (in a German kingdom then still in personal monarchical union with Great Britain), the son of a highranking civil servant in the Ministry of Justice. After studying and early teaching at the University of Göttingen (doctorate 1838, university lecturer 1840), in 1848 he became professor of history and social sciences in Leipzig, a university distinguished by its law faculty. He served in this position up to his death in 1894. He is the main German-language textbook author of economics in the second half of the nineteenth century, the term ‘textbook’, however, by far understating the scientiﬁc importance of his comprehensive treatises. In its tripartite structure (theory–policy–public ﬁnance) roughly following the innovative framework of Karl Heinrich Rau, his predecessor as the dominant German economist a quarter of a century earlier, Roscher’s System of Economics deals with theory in Volume I, Foundations of National Economics (1854), a book which ran to 26 editions up to 1922; followed by Volume II, on agricultural economics (that is, economic policy, part I), ﬁrst published in 1859, a book of 14 editions; Volume III, published only in 1881, on commerce and industry (that is, economic policy, part II), running to eight editions; Volume IV, on public ﬁnance, published in 1886 (ﬁve editions); and, ﬁnally, Volume V, System of the Poor Laws and the Policy towards the Poor, published in 1894 (three editions), a third...
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