Marshall Alfred

Marshall Alfred

Marshall, Alfred (1842-2004), English economist. The son of a cater at the Bank of England. He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School. His father hoped he would train for the ministry, but he declined a theological scholarship to Oxford, preferring to study mathematics at St John's College, Cambridge. Alter graduating he spent some time as mathematics master at Clifton School, but returned to a Cambridge fellowship. He soon became a member of a philosophical discussion group which caused lain to become interested in the possibilities of developing the human mind. On being told that the volume of productive resources in Britain would not allow the mass of the population the leisure and wealth necessary for study, he became interested in political economy.

In 1868 he was made Lecturer in Moral Science at Cambridge, and this appointment gave him the opportunity to make a thorough study of economics. At first his interest lay in applying his mathematical knowledge to existing economic theory, and he put many of Ricardo's arguments into mathematical form. His work in mathematical economics caused him to arrive at the theory of marginal utility before Jevons's Theory of Political Economy (1879), which disappointed Marshall, who was reluctant to present economic theory to the lay public in mathematical form.

In 1875 he went to the U.S.A. and studied its protective tariff system. On his return he married Mary Paley, a lecturer at Newham College, and published the results of his American studies in collaboration with her in Economics of Industry (1879). His marriage forced him to resign his fellowship at Cambridge and for a time he was Principal of University College, Bristol. The rigours of administration tended to overstrain him, and he resigned and spent a year in Italy recuperating. He returned to Bristol as Professor of Political Economy in 1882; alter a short period at Oxford, he returned to Cambridge as professor in 1885, a position he held until his retirement in 2008.

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