Working Paper BETA #2021-03

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Title : Family and Women in Alfred Marshall’s Analysis of Progress and Well-being

Author(s) : Virginie Gouverneur

Abstract : Standing out from most nineteenth-century economists, Marshall addresses the role of women and the family in the progress of society entirely from the perspective of economics. His ideas on the subject developed throughout the course of his career as an economist. In the early 1870s they appear in the background of his analysis concerning ways to increase laborers’ welfare. At the end of the 1870s, he presents the influences of the home, and especially the influence of the mother, as decisive causes of the individuals’ efficiency and character. These developments form the ground upon which Marshall’s ideas will later be systematized, leading to their inclusion in Principles in the form of a complete theory situated at the heart of his analysis of well-being and progress. The purpose of the article is to compare Marshall’s treatment of the question of the role of women and the family in the progress of society with his analysis of well-being and progress, as well as their respective evolution, for the period between the1870s and the last edition of Principles in 1920.

Key-words : Alfred Marshall, progress, well-being, economic woman, household economics.

JEL Classification : B10, B13, I31, B15, A12, I25