The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Say, Jean-Baptiste (1767–1832)

  • Thomas Sowell
Reference work entry


Although Jean-Baptiste Say is remembered primarily for Say’s Law, one of the cornerstones of classical economics, he was also an early proponent of the utility theory of value, and was therefore very much at odds with his classical contemporaries, to whom labour was the source of value. Say’s best-known work, his Traité d’économie politique (Published in five editions, from 1803 to 1826) was intended as a shorter and more systematic presentation of economics than Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. The success of this book made Say the best-known expositor of Smith in Europe and America, and he became in 1815 France’s first professor of political economy. Translations of the Traité were used as textbooks at universities on both sides of the Atlantic.


Aggregate supply and demand Classical economics Labour theory of value Malthus, T. R. Methodology of economics Mill, J. Ricardo, D. Say’s Law Sismondi, J. C. L. S. de Smith, A. Utility theory of value 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Sowell
    • 1
  1. 1.