The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Chadwick, Edwin (1800–1890)

  • P. S. Atiyah
Reference work entry


Public administrator and social reformer, Sir Edwin Chadwick was born at Longsight, near Manchester, on 24 January 1800 and died at East Sheen, Surrey, on 6 July 1890. He was trained as a lawyer and qualified for the bar in 1830. His early radicalism led him into contact with the utilitarians and the reforming political economists who drew their inspiration from Ricardo. He acted as Bentham’s secretary and assistant for the last two years of his life. He was also a friend of the economist Nassau Senior, and he and Senior were largely responsible for the Report which led to the complete restructuring of the Poor Law in 1834, along lines which the economists had been urging for years. For the next twenty years Chadwick was employed in a variety of public administrative positions, becoming best known for his Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population (1842) which laid the foundations for modern urbanized sewerage and public health measures throughout the country, and even the world. But he was a difficult man to deal with and was eventually pensioned off by the government in 1854. He wrote a large number of pamphlets, as well as being responsible wholly or partly for many important government reports (Finer 1952).

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  1. Finer, S.E. 1952. The life and times of Sir Edwin Chadwick. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  2. Lewis, R.A. 1950. Edwin Chadwick and the railway labourers. Economic History Review, 2nd Series 3(1): 107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. S. Atiyah
    • 1
  1. 1.