Séminaire GREDEG - Raphaël FEVRE, (Université Côte d'Azur) & Thomas MUELLER, MCF (Université Paris 8)

Towards a “Prodigious Revival of French Economics”? Allais, Debreu and the Dead Loss Controversy (1943-1951)
Quand ? Le 19-11-2020,
de 14:00 à 15:30
Où ? By videoconference (Codes will be sent you)
S'adresser à Michela Chessa ou Catherine Chevance
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Raphaël FEVRE, - GREDEG - (Université Côte d'Azur)

Thomas MUELLER, - LED - (Univesité Paris 8)

Title: "Towards a “Prodigious Revival of French Economics”? Allais, Debreu and the Dead Loss Controversy (1943-1951)".

co-authored with Thomas Mueller

Abstract: This article aims at reconstructing the hitherto unknown controversy that involved Maurice Allais, François Divisia, Harold Hotelling and Gérard Debreu in the early postwar period. The crux of this controversy focused upon the “dead loss”, a measure of the maximum value of available surplus working as a gauge of economic efficiency and social welfare. The protagonists of the controversy argued about its mathematical expression, the hypothesis behind it as well as its general significance. By drawing heavily on unpublished materials from the protagonists (letters and notes), the article will unfold the different steps of the dead loss controversy and shows that it was driven by an intricate interlacing of technical advance of welfare economics with Allais’s own ambition to embody the revival of French economics. Eventually, this controversy (and the tense personal exchange between Allais and Debreu that came with it) proved a remarkable—though tacit—driving force behind Debreu’s contributions of the early 1950s.


This seminar will be online only.

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