Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume III
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Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume III

Developments in Major Fields of Economics

Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz

Volume III contains entries on the development of major fields in economics from the inception of systematic analysis until modern times. The reader is provided with succinct summary accounts of the main problems, the methods used to address them and the results obtained across time. The emphasis is on both the continuity and the major changes that have occurred in the economic analysis of problematic issues such as economic growth, income distribution, employment, inflation, business cycles and financial instability. Each Handbook can be read individually and acts as a self-contained volume in its own right. It can be purchased separately or as part of a three-volume set.
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Chapter 17: Formalization and mathematical modelling

Paola Tubaro


Claims that economics is close in spirit and principle to mathematics have been reiterated many times; a well-known one is William S. Jevons’s “our science must be mathematical, simply because it deals with quantities” (1871 [1888]: 1.5, original emphasis). The use of mathematics is now widely recognized as an essential ingredient of both research and teaching in economics, and attempts to build mathematical accounts of economic phenomena are as old as the discipline itself (Theocharis 1961 [1983]). The history of mathematical modelling in economics has not been a linear one. The profession privileged the verbal form for long, and even when the formal approach gradually gained ground, it often had to defend itself against hefty criticisms. Today’s widespread consensus around formalization does not prevent doubts from occasionally resurfacing.

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