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Not to be confused with Economic policy. Political economy is the study of production and trade, and their relations with law, custom, and government,...

Not to be confused with Economic policy. Political economy is the study of production and trade, and their relations with law, custom, and government, as well as with the distribution of national income and wealth. Political economy as a discipline originated national system of political economy pdf moral philosophy in the 18th century and sought to explore the administration of states’ wealth, with political signifying the Greek word Polity and “economy” signifying the Greek word “okonomie” or “household management”.


The earliest works of political economy are most often attributed to British scholars like Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo, although the case is sometimes made that the still earlier works of the French physiocrats constitute the true beginnings of the discipline. In the late 19th century, the term economics gradually began to replace the term political economy with the rise of mathematical modelling coinciding with the 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. Citation measurement metrics from Google Ngram Viewer indicate that use of the term “economics” began to overshadow “political economy” around roughly 1910, becoming the preferred term for the discipline by 1920.

Today, the term “economics” usually refers to the narrow study of the economy absent other political and social considerations, while the term “political economy” represents a distinct and competing approach. Political economy, where it is not used as a synonym for economics, may refer to very different things.

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