The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Laissez-faire, Economists and

  • Roger E. Backhouse
  • Steven G. Medema
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95189-5_2206

Abstract

This article traces economists’s attitudes towards government intervention since the term ‘laissez-faire’ was first used in late 17th- or early 18th-century France. Understanding of the term has changed significantly since then. Adam Smith, popularly associated with laissez-faire, had a much more nuanced and pragmatic view of the role of the state, as did many of the classical economists and their neoclassical successors. Dissatisfaction with certain aspects of industrial capitalism led to a more interventionist stance during the 20th century, though the second half of the century saw something of a reversion towards the classical approach.

Keywords

Banking School Bastiat, C. F. Behavioural economics Boisguilbert, P. Bright, J. Cairnes, J. E. Cambridge School Capitalism Chalmers, T. Chicago School Cobden, R. Consumer surplus Corporatism Cowles Commission Currency competition Currency school Division of labour Economic freedom Efficient allocation Free banking Gold standard Government failure Great depression Hayek, F. A. von Hobson, J. A. Information, economic of Institutionalism Keynes, J. M. Keynesianism Laissez-faire Lange, O. R. List, F. Manchester school Marginal revolution Market failure Market socialism Markets Marshall, A. McCulloch, J. R. Mercantilism Mill, J. S. Minimum wages Mises, L. E. von Mont Pèlerin Society Natural liberty New classical macroeconomics New Deal North, D. Optimal resource allocation Planning Public choice Rational behaviour Rational choice Ricardo, D. Role of government Samuelson, P. A. Sidgwick, H. Smith, A. Socialist calculation debate Underconsumptionism Utilitarianism Viner, J. Walras, L. 
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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger E. Backhouse
    • 1
  • Steven G. Medema
    • 1
  1. 1.