Paul A. Samuelson Essay, Research Paper
Paul A. Samuelson
Paul Samuelson was born in Gary, Indiana in 1915. He was not the best of students; in fact, he made no impact at all until he got to college. Although he was an underachiever in high school, Samuelson became one of the greatest economists of the twentieth century.
Samuelson completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago. Afterwards he considered going to Columbia for his graduate work, but chose to go to Harvard in September of 1935. He was awarded a Social Science Research Council Fellowship to do his graduate work in the field of economics. After earning his Ph.D. at Harvard, he went on to join the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) faculty. Once there, he helped make the MIT graduate department of economics one of the most accomplished in the country. This brought him world fame at a young age.
Paul Samuelson made a big imprint on modern economics. His contributions cover a range of subjects almost as broad as economics itself, from the very esoteric to the mainstream issues. Samuelson has played an important role in the accretion of economic knowledge and the problems of the modern political economy. He ranks among history-making economists for his accomplishments in refining, advancing, and spreading economic knowledge. He has played an outstanding role in the analytical revolution in economic theory. In 1970, he was the first American to receive the Nobel Prize in Economic Science.
Samuelson was a major architect of modern neoclassical economics. Neoclassical economics is best explained by the two groups that made up the core of its early twentieth century followers. The older group tended to be price-level stabilizers in macroeconomic policy and trust-busters in microeconomic policy. The younger group relied on monetary economics on the macroeconomic side and worried less about monopoly on the microeconomic side. Samuelson s pervasive influence on contemporary economics has also come largely from his role as a teacher to generations of economists ever since the first appearance of his masterly and controversial textbook in 1948.
His general neoclassical approach came under strong attack from four main economic quarters. The Keynesian tradition, which cast doubt on both the macro economy s basic stability and its tendency to any full-employment equilibrium position and the Marxian tradition, which argued more on his social studies including economic history, than in economics proper. A number of historical and institutional schools also attacked his neoclassical approach on normative issues. The behavioral schools who doubted the realism and usefulness of assuming rational behavior in social or economic matters and relied primarily on empirical routines and regularities when considering short-run problems also attacked Samuelson s ideas.
Samuelson has held many important positions in his career. He wrote an economic column for Newsweek Magazine. He often testified before Congress and served as academic consultant to the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Treasury, and other various private, non-profit organizations. He was also an economic advisor to President John F. Kennedy.
Another of Samuelson s major contributions to the field of economics was the quantitative and mathematical economic reasoning that is now popular. His dissertation developed into the book Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947) and set the stage for this reasoning. Before Samuelson, economics reflected the verbal and diagrammatic approach popularized by Alfred Marshall. Samuelson showed economists more subtle kinds of mathematical reasoning. It was this approach that won him the Nobel Prize.
Samuelson has contributed to almost every branch of economics. He was the first American to ever win the Nobel Prize in Economics, was the principal founder of the concept of neoclassical economics, made many contributions to mathematical economic theory, and held many positions in which his opinion was highly respected.