The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Turgot, Anne Robert Jacques, Baron de L’Aulne (1727–1781)

  • Peter Groenewegen
Reference work entry


Economist, philosopher and administrator, Turgot was born in Paris, in 1727, the third son of a well-established Norman family with a long tradition of public service in the magistrature. Destined originally for a career in the Church, his education was extensive. Because of shyness, his education commenced at home with a private tutor; it continued at the Collèges Duplessis and Bourgogne where, among other things, he studied the philosophical systems of Newton and Locke. In October 1746 he entered the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice in preparation for the priesthood. From June 1749 to early 1751 he was resident student at the Maison de Sorbonne, an annex of the theological faculty of the University of Paris. His already considerable academic distinction led to his election to the office of prior in 1750. This honorary position inspired two of his earliest works, of which the second, Philosophical Review of the Successive Advances of the Human Mind (Turgot 1750a) contained a demonstration of the importance of economic surplus for the development of civilization as part of his four stages theory of human progress:

Tillage … is able to feed more men than are employed in it … Hence towns, trade, the useful arts and accomplishments, the division of occupations, the differences in education, and the increased inequality in the conditions of life. Hence leisure… (and) the cultivation of the arts. (Turgot 1750a, p. 43)


Advances Böhm-Bawerk, E. von Capital accumulation Capital and interest theory Class Condorcet, Marquis de Division of labour Du Pont de Nemours, P. S. Gournay, Marquis de Inequality Interest Laissez-faire Law of variable proportions Loanable funds Marginal revolution Market price Natural price Physiocracy Quesnay, F. Saving Equals Investment Sharecropping Single Tax Slavery Smith, A. Stages theory of progress Surplus Thrift Turgot, A. R. J. 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Groenewegen
    • 1
  1. 1.