A qualified civil engineer, Vilfredo Pareto had initially worked for the railways and the ironworks. However, he gradually deviated to philosophy, sociology, and politics and gained fame for his application of math to economic issues and his introduction of Pareto efficiency. Mind and Society remains his best-known work.
Esther Duflo is a French–American economist. She is credited with co-founding the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, a global research center that works towards reducing poverty worldwide. In 2019, she shared the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Michael Kremer and Abhijit Banerjee for their efforts to reduce poverty.
French economist and professor Thomas Piketty is best known for his book Capital in the Twenty-first Century, which became a New York Times bestseller. He has taught at prestigious institutes such as LSE and MIT. He proposed taxing the rich to prevent high incomes and not merely to increase government revenue.
Born to Egyptian parents in New York, Mohamed A. El-Erian grew up in the U.S., Egypt, and France, with his diplomat father. Educated at Cambridge and Oxford, he later served as the CEO of PIMCO. Apart from being a Bloomberg columnist, he has also written bestsellers such as When Markets Collide.
Born into a merchant family in France, Jean-Baptiste Colbert grew up to hold various administrative posts. Patronized by Cardinal Mazarin, he became affluent and later became one of the most efficient administrators during the regime of Louis XIV. He also established the French merchant navy.
An ardent follower of Adam Smith’s ideas, French economist Frederic Bastiat propagated the concept of free trade. Apart from launching his journal Le Libre-Échange, he also penned the iconic satire Sophismes économiques and his most notable work The Law. He also introduced what later came to be known as opportunity cost.
Often referred to as the Father of Anarchism, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was born to a tavern keeper and grew up working on farms. Largely educated on scholarships, he later became known for his slogan “Property is theft!” and his idea of mutualism. His notable works include What is Property?
Léon Walras was a French mathematical economist and Georgist. He is known for formulating the marginal theory of value independently of William Stanley Jevons. Considered a pioneer in the development of general equilibrium theory, he authored the book Éléments d'économie politique pure. He is also considered one of the three leaders of the marginalist revolution.
German-French banker and the youngest child of Mayer Amschel Rothschild, James Mayer de Rothschild. He took over the reins of his family banking firm after the death of his brother Nathan and headed the French Rothschild banking family. The Légion d'honneur winner later also invested in a vineyard.
Although born to a French count who had fought for his country, Henri de Castries chose to move away from a military career and ended up being a successful businessman instead, equipped with both a business and a law degree. The former CEO of AXA had also headed the Bilderberg Group
French economist Jean-Baptiste Say supported free trade and competition. Scholars of economics know him for his law of markets, which states that supply creates its own demand. He had experimented with many jobs, from being a journalist to owning a cotton mill, and eventually became an economics professor.
French economic and social theorist Jacques Attali was born in Algiers and later moved to Paris with his family. Apart from heading the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, he has established various non-profits and the EUREKA program. He has also penned books such as Labyrinth in Culture and Society.
Born to a Banque de France employee, Jacques Delors followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the bank later. Educated at the Sorbonne, he became a Socialist Party member. The former French finance minister has also served as president of the European Commission and supported the formation of the euro.
Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours was a French-American writer and economist. An ambitious man, he served as French inspector general of commerce under Louis XVI. He moved to America during the French Revolution and was later elected a member of the American Philosophical Society. His son Éleuthère Irénée du Pont founded E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.
François Quesnay was a French economist and physician. He was a proponent of the Physiocratic school. He is best known for publishing the "Tableau économique" (Economic Table), in which he set forth the foundations of the ideas of the Physiocrats. He also wrote extensively on Chinese politics and society. He was married to a woman named Marianne Woodsen.
17 Jean Tirole
Jean Tirole is a French professor of economics currently affiliated with Toulouse 1 Capitole University. He is also chairman of the board of the Jean-Jacques Laffont Foundation. He has made tremendous contributions to the fields of industrial organization, banking and finance, game theory, and economics, and psychology. He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2014.
Cornelius Castoriadis was a Greek-French philosopher, economist, social critic, and psychoanalyst. He is known as a co-founder of the Socialisme ou Barbarie group. An influential author in both academic and activist circles, he was the author of The Imaginary Institution of Society. Later in life, he joined the faculty of the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS).
Henri de Saint-Simon was a French political, economic, and socialist theorist and businessman. His ideology was the inspiration behind the political and economic movement known as Saint-Simonianism. He left a major influence in the fields of politics, economics, sociology, and philosophy of science. His ideas also inspired and influenced the concept of utopian socialism.
French economist and MIT professor Olivier Blanchard has also been the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund. A macroeconomist, he deals with research topics such as unemployment and labor market. He has also written quite a few books, such as The Economics of Post-Communist Transition.
Anne Robert Jacques Turgot was a chief economist of 18th-century France. One of the pioneers of economic liberalism, he was previously clubbed with the economists of the Physiocratic school. Many of Adam Smith’s ideas in the pathbreaking book Wealth of Nations were hugely inspired by Turgot’s.
Jean-Claude Trichet is a French economist. He was the president of the European Central Bank from 2003 to 2011. Previously, he had been the governor of the Bank of France from 1993 to 2003 under the presidencies of François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac. A much-decorated personality, he is a Commander of the Legion of Honor.
French left-wing politician Christiane Taubira has been the French minister of justice. A French Guianese by birth, she co-established the Caricoop Agricultural Association. The author of Slavery Explained to My Daughter, she lent her name to a law that prohibited Atlantic slave trade. She also legalized same-sex marriages in France.
French mathematician Louis Bachelier was said to be the first to chart a mathematical model for what is now called the Brownian motion. After losing his wine merchant father early in life, he took over the reins of his family business, but he gradually became a pioneer in mathematical finance.
25 Pascal Lamy
Pascal Lamy is a French political consultant. He served as the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for eight years from 2005 to 2013. He has also served as the European Commissioner for Trade. He is a businessman as well and is a board member in several non-profit organizations. He is a member of the French Socialist Party.
Pierre Moscovici is an important French politician, belonging to the Socialist Party. A graduate of the Ecole nationale d’administration, he held important posts both in the European Parliament and French National Assembly before being nominated to represent France at the European Commission, where he served as the Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs from 2014 to 2019.
Born to a magistrate, Charles Alexandre de Calonne initially followed in his father’s footsteps to become a lawyer and gradually rose to be the controller-general of finance when the French government was sinking in debt. His suggestion of taxing the rich was rejected, paving the path for the French Revolution.
28 Julia Cagé
French economist Julia Cagé specializes in political economy, industrial organization and economic history. An Assistant Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at Sciences Po Paris, she is also a research affiliate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and the Co-director of the "Evaluation of Democracy" research group of the Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Evaluation of Public Policies.
Édouard Balladur is a French politician who served as the prime minister of France from 1993 to 1995. He started his political career in the 1960s and steadily rose through the ranks, becoming the minister of economy and finance. A few years later, he took office as the prime minister. The media often caricatures him as aloof, aristocratic, and arrogant.
Frédéric Passy was a French pacifist and economist. He is credited with co-founding the Inter-Parliamentary Union as well as many peace societies, such as the Société Française pour l'Arbitrage entre Nations. He is best known for his involvement in the European peace movement, for which he received the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.
Regarded as the first economist who had applied math to solve economic problems, Antoine-Augustin Cournot had penned the iconic work Researches into the Mathematical Principles of the Theory of Wealth. He was also the first to chart a supply and demand curve on a graph and introduced Cournot competition.
Maurice Allais was a French economist and physicist. Much revered and respected within the realm of economic analysis, Maurice Allais was honored with the prestigious Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1988. Allais' works served as a major influence on popular French economists like Jacques Lesourne, Gérard Debreu, Marcel Boiteux, and Edmond Malinvaud.
Born in France, Nobel Memorial Prize-winning economist Gerard Debreu, known for his research on general equilibrium and econometrics, was orphaned as a child. He had also fought for the French army. Initially interested in math, he later deviated to economics and taught at the University of California, Berkeley.
Stefanie Stantcheva is a French economist currently working as a professor of economics at Harvard University. Her research mainly focuses on public finance, and she is a member of the French Council of Economic Analysis. She is an associate editor of the Journal of Political Economy and the American Economic Review. She received the Elaine Bennett Research Prize in 2020.
Hailed as an old-style French intellectual and a scholar of Keynes, Bernard Maris was also a journalist, a prolific writer, member of the General Council of the Banque de France and shareholder in Charlie Hebdo magazine. He was killed when on 7 January 2015 gunmen stormed the Charlie Hebdo office while he was having a meeting there, killing eleven others.
French political economist Victor de Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau belonged to the Physiocratic school. He is also remembered as the father of economist and French Revolution leader Comte de Mirabeau. He penned books such as Theory of Taxation. Going against tax farmers, he suggested direct tax collection on income and land.
39 Jules Dupuit
Nineteenth-century French civil engineer and economist Jules Dupuit ascertained the economic issues associated with public works. He pioneered the use of the diminishing marginal utility curve, while finding out the optimum cost for using a bridge, and also explained what later came to be known as consumer surplus.
Joseph Bertrand was a 19th-century French mathematician. He is remembered for his work in the fields of number theory, economics, differential geometry, probability theory, and thermodynamics. A brilliant individual, he completed his Ph.D. with a thesis on the mathematical theory of electricity as a teenager. He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
French economist Jérôme-Adolphe Blanqui is remembered for his liberalism and for his pathbreaking work History of Political Economy in Europe. He was born to a politician and began his career as an educator. He later chaired the political economy department of Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers.
Clément Juglar was a French doctor and statistician. Even while practicing as a doctor, he wrote several articles on trends in French population statistics over several decades. He developed an economic theory of business cycles and is believed to be one of the first to do so. His theory inspired later economists such as Joseph Schumpeter.
Joseph-Marie Terray was the controller-general of finances toward the end of Louis XV’s reign. He began his career as an ecclesiastical counselor of the Parlement of Paris. His reforms, such as forced loans, were met with general opposition. He was dismissed over allegations of being associated with the Pact of Famine.
André Morellet was a French economist known for his views on religious tolerance, penal reform, inoculation, and liberty of the press. He advocated for freedom of commerce and sought to bring about reforms to the French political economy. A prolific writer, he made major contributions to the Encyclopédie. He amassed a personal library of over 4,700 titles.
Economist Pierre Le Pesant, sieur de Boisguillebert was born into a noble family of Normandy and received an elite education. He suggested several economic reforms during Louis XIV’s reign, paving the way for Physiocrats. He supported direct taxes and believed the prosperity of France depended on its agricultural capacity.
46 Jean Orry
Jean Orry was a French economist. He studied law as a young man and served as a munitioneer for the army of Italy for many years. Later on, he became an adviser to Louis XIV of France. He was sent to Spain where he created secretaries of state and intendants in Spanish governmental administration.