The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Mercier De La Rivière, Pierre-Paul (Mercier or Lemercier) (1720–1793/4)

  • Peter Groenewegen
Reference work entry


Lawyer, administrator and economist, born into a financier’s family in 1720. From 1749 to 1759, he was Councillor of the Paris Parlement; from 1759 to 1764, Governor of Martinique. Although Garnier (1854, p. 188) claims that Mercier became acquainted with Quesnay and Mirabeau while Governor of Martinique, this is doubtful. However, after 1765 he became a prominent Physiocrat and published what many (for example, Smith 1776, p. 679; Mill 1824, p. 712) considered to be the most comprehensive exposition of Physiocratic doctrine in his L’ordre naturel et essentiel des sociétés politiques (1767). This gained him both Catherine the Great’s invitation to advise her on a new legal code and the enmity of Voltaire (1768), who devastatingly satirized his cumbrous prose. Du Pont (1768) wrote a summary of Mercier’s work for Ephémérides, confirming thereby its enormous importance for the Physiocrats. Subsequently, Mercier published a reply to Galiani’s dialogues attacking the Physiocratic position on the grain trade (1770) and an essay on the importance of public education dedicated to the King of Sweden (1775). He died in Paris in either 1793 or 1794.


Balance of trade Mercier de la Rivière, P. P. Money Physiocracy Private property Taxation theory Value theory, Physiocratic 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Groenewegen
    • 1
  1. 1.