A peculiar archaeology: Searching for Mr Giffen's behaviour

Michael Vivian White

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It has been claimed that references to Giffen behaviour constituted a single research project, driven by attempts to establish whether an initial conjecture by Alfred Marshall had empirical validity. There is no stable basis for that claim because Marshall s discussion was contradictory and Robert Giffen rejected a key assumption made by Marshall. By the mid-1920s, discussion of an upward-sloping demand curve attached no particular significance to a Marshallian story. The formulation of the Irish famine Giffen exemplar by P.A. Samuelson illustrates how Giffen behaviour was stabilised as the single possible exception to the law of demand in the 1960s.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26 - 50
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of the History of Economic Thought
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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