Political economy was the original term used for studying production, buying, and selling, and their relations with law, custom, and government, as well as with the distribution of national income and wealth. Political economy originated in moral philosophy. It developed in the 18th century as the study of the economies of states, polities, hence the term political economy.
In the late 19th century, the term economics came to replace political economy, coinciding with publication of an influential textbook by Alfred Marshall in 1890. Earlier, William Stanley Jevons, a proponent of mathematical methods applied to the subject, advocated economics for brevity and with the hope of the term becoming "the recognised name of a science."
Today, political economy, where it is not used as a synonym for economics, may refer to very different things, including Marxian analysis, applied public-choice approaches emanating from the Chicago school and the Virginia school, or simply the advice given by economists to the government or public on general economic policy or on specific proposals. A rapidly-growing mainstream literature from the 1970s has expanded beyond the model of economic policy in which planners maximize utility of a representative individual toward examining how political forces affect the choice of policies, especially as to distributional conflicts and political institutions. It is available as an area of study in certain colleges and universities.
Famous quotes containing the words political and/or economy:
“I would wish that the women of our country could embrace ... [the responsibilities] of citizenship as peculiarly their own. If they could apply their higher sense of service and responsibility, their freshness of enthusiasm, their capacity for organization to this problem, it would become, as it should become, an issue of profound patriotism. The whole plane of political life would be lifted.”
—Herbert Hoover (18741964)
“The aim of the laborer should be, not to get his living, to get a good job, but to perform well a certain work; and, even in a pecuniary sense, it would be economy for a town to pay its laborers so well that they would not feel that they were working for low ends, as for a livelihood merely, but for scientific, or even moral ends. Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)