The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Mill, John Stuart (1806–1873)

  • N. De Marchi
Reference work entry


Mill approached economic theory using conceptual and verbal analysis. This worked well for settled truths applied to circumscribed situations, such as a rise in the ratio of food prices to manufactured goods prices under growth subject to decreasing returns. He needed, but did not develop, a different method for multi-causal problems. Mill insisted that value and production were settled areas of political economy but was open to societal reforms that would result in altered shares of income and wealth. This distracted from the coherence of his Principles of Political Economy and from his reputation as a theorist, while ensuring that he will be remembered for challenging readers to entertain breathtaking prospects for human improvement.


Absolute and exchangeable value Bentham, J. Birth control Communal ownership Corn Laws Education Falling rate of profit Happiness Inheritance and bequests Labour as a measure of value Laissez-faire Mill, J. Mill, J.S. Rent Ricardo, D. Role of government Smith, A. Social preferences Speculation Stationary state Taylor, H. Value 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. De Marchi
    • 1
  1. 1.