Beyond Samuelson's Chapter on Ramsey

37 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2010 Last revised: 13 Oct 2010

See all articles by Pedro Garcia Duarte

Pedro Garcia Duarte

University of São Paulo (FEA-USP) - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 15, 2010


Paul Samuelson proposed and practiced a program for the Whig history of economics. One such example is his account of Frank Ramsey's contribution to optimal taxation in 1927. For him and mainly for the public finance economists who rediscovered later Ramsey's contribution, Ramsey was a genius ahead of his time who used a mathematics too advanced for his contemporaries and was rediscovered only in the 1970s, when economists became more mathematically literate. In such rediscovery, a memorandum that Samuelson wrote in 1951 for the US Treasury became central. I examine Samuelson's account and the historical context of the emergence of the optimal taxation literature in the 1970s in which Ramsey was canonized.

Keywords: Frank Ramsey, Paul Samuelson, Optimal Taxation

JEL Classification: B20, B31

Suggested Citation

Garcia Duarte, Pedro, Beyond Samuelson's Chapter on Ramsey (September 15, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Pedro Garcia Duarte (Contact Author)

University of São Paulo (FEA-USP) - Department of Economics ( email )

Av. Prof. Luciano Gualberto, 908
Departamento de Economia
Sao Paulo, SP, 05508-010


Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics