The American economist Paul Anthony Samuelson (born 1915) was the most distinguished of the economists who entered the profession during and after the mid-1930s—the "Keynesian generation." He was frequently referred to as the last of the generalists.
Paul Samuelson was born on May 15, 1915, in Gary, Indiana. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1935 and pursued graduate study in economics at Harvard University, where he received the master's degree in 1936 and the doctorate in 1941 and was made a member of the prestigious Harvard Society of Junior Fellows. In 1940 he joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Samuelson's Foundations of Economic Analysis and numerous pioneering articles on economic theory, statistics, mathematical economics, and the important postwar policy issues placed him among the select few of the world's leading economists by the 1940s. In 1947, he was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, which acknowledged him as the outstanding American economic scholar under the age of 40.
A continuing steady stream of scientific books and articles and the appearance of Samuelson's textbook, Economics: An Introductory Analysis (1948), made him not only the most respected but also the best-known economist of his time. His Economics had been the standard textbook in the United States and throughout the world for more than two decades. Its unprecedented success was of course attributable to its overall greatness. However, high on the list of specific reasons were Samuelson's concern with the big, vital economic issues, his changing of these issues as appropriate with each new edition, and his sparkling and lucid writing style, which made these issues come alive to both teacher and student. He also wrote Economics from the Heart: the Samuelson Sampler (1983); and co-authored with William D. Nordhaus, Microeconomics (1989) and Macroeconomics (1989).
Samuelson was president of the Econometric Society (1951), the American Economic Association (1961), and the International Economic Association (1965-1968). In 1970 he was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, the first American economist to be so honored. In 1991 MIT established the Paul A. Samuelson Professorship in Economics in his honor. In 1996 Samuelson received the Medal of Science, the nation's highest award in science and engineering, for his contributions to economic science, education and policy and for establishing both the agenda of modern economics and scientific standards for economic analysis. He received honorary degrees from a host of colleges and universities. He delivered, among many other prestigious lectures, the Stamp Memorial Lecture (London, 1961), the Wicksell Lectures (Stockholm, 1962), and the Franklin Lecture (Detroit, 1962).
Samuelson, a leading figure in the new, more activist intelligentsia, was an advisor to President's Kennedy, Johnson and their Councils of Economic Advisers, government agencies, and other public and private institutions. His frequent appearances on television and radio and in the printed media made Samuelson's name, and his economic views on vital economic issues, widely familiar. He, along with several other MIT faculty members, made President Nixon's "enemies list" for his harsh criticism of the economic policies of the Nixon administration. The economics profession became accustomed, over three decades, to hearing MIT students proclaim, with justifiable pride, that they were taught by Professor Samuelson. In a much broader sense, he taught more economics to more of the world's citizenry than any other economist of the 20th century.
Further Reading on Paul Anthony Samuelson
Information on Samuelson was in Lawrence Boland, The Methodology of Economic Model Building: Methodology After Samuelson (1989); John Cunningham Wood and Ronald Woods, Paul A. Samuelson: Critical Assessments (1989); E. Cary Brown and Robert M. Solow, Paul Samuelson and Modern Economic Theory (1983); George Feiwel, Samuelson and Neoclassical Economics (1982); Marc Linder, The Anti-Samuelson (1977); Ben B. Seligman, Main Currents in Modern Economics: Economic Thought since 1870 (1962); and in Robert Lekachman, The Age of Keynes (1966).