The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

‘Political Economy’ and ‘Economics’

  • Peter Groenewegen
Reference work entry


This article provides a survey of the origin of the term ‘political economy’ and its changes in meaning, emphasizing in particular its first modern usage in the 18th century, its demise from the end of the 19th century, when it was gradually replaced by the word) ‘economics’, and its revival in a variety of forms, largely during the 1960s, which have altered its meaning from more traditional usage. What follows is therefore largely definitional and etymological, designed to indicate the lack of precise meaning associated with both the term, ‘political economy’ and its more modern synonym, ‘economics’.

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Groenewegen
    • 1
  1. 1.