Childhood & Early Life:
James Meade was born on 23 June 1907, at Swanage, a coastal town in England.
He attended Lambrook School between 1917 and 1921 after which he got enrolled in Malvern College and studied there till 1926. Until 1926, his education was focused on learning Greek and Latin languages.
In 1926 he joined Oriel College, Oxford where he continued classical education for two years and then shifted to the then newly founded School of Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
He was offered a fellowship that allowed him to continue his post graduate studies in Economics at the Hertford College at Oxford. During the same time he received an invitation from economist Dennis Robertson to join Trinity College, Cambridge for the year 1930-1931. He subsequently joined Trinity College, Cambridge.
It was while studying at the Trinity College that he got acquainted with economists Piero Sraffa, Austin Robinson, Richard Kahn and Joan Robinson. They together formed the group named ‘Cambridge Circus’. The group met and discussed John Maynard Keynes' publication titled ‘A Treatise on Money’ and provided feedback on Keynes's continuing theoretical work.
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In 1931, James Meade was appointed as lecturer at Hertford College in Oxford. He taught there until 1937. He along with other economists in the University, such as, Henry Phelps Brown, Roy Harrod, Lindley Fraser and Robert Hall began teaching economics as a regular subject. This was a novel concept in the university.
James Meade was assigned to teach the complete subject of economic theory. Two subjects that were of particular interest to him were International economics and economics of mass-unemployment.
During that time Oxford University had strong influence on the League of Nations Union and, in 1937, James Meade joined the Economic Section of the League of Nations in Geneva. He served as the editor of the ‘World Economic Survey’ and published the seventh and eighth editions.
In 1940, after the onset of the Second World War, he along with family was forced to leave Geneva and shift to England. In England, he became the member of the Economic Section of the War Cabinet Secretariat. He became the Director in 1946 and remained a member until 1947.
He worked under the guidance of Lionel Robbins along with John Maynard Keynes towards solving everyday economic issues like rationing of food items and deciding pricing policies for nationalized industries.
During his tenure at the Economic Section of the War Cabinet Secretariat, James Meade was able to document the very first estimate of national income and expenditure in UK. He was also part of discussions that led to the White Paper on Employment Policy of 1944 where the UK Government acknowledged the maintenance of employment as responsibility of governmental policy.
He was appointed as professor of commerce at the London School of Economics in 1947. Here, he was assigned to teach international economics and simultaneously he began writing his own book.
During his decade long tenure at the London School of Economics he published two books titled ‘The Balance of Payments’ that focused on global relations between several national economies developed on the Keynesian model and ‘Trade and Welfare’, which exercised the theory of economic welfare to international business including situations where ‘Free Trade’ is beneficial and detrimental to an economy.
In 1957, he shifted from London to the chair of Political Economy in Cambridge, a position he held until 1967.
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In 1967, he went on to become a Senior Research Fellow of Christ's College in Cambridge. However, he gave up the fellowship in 1974.
During this time, he began working on his project to write on the domestic aspects of economic theory and policy. In connection with this topic he wrote four volumes titled ‘The Stationary Economy’, ‘The Growing Economy’, ‘The Controlled Economy’, and ‘The Just Economy’.
In 1974, he was elected as Chairman of a committee founded by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, with the objective of analyzing the structure of direct taxation in the United Kingdom. Members of the committee included economists, major practitioners in tax law, administration and accountancy.
Through his studies, he developed a neo-classical model of economic growth that was designed in a way in which the most basic form of economic system would behave during the course of economic growth.
The neo- classical model was developed based on ten assumptions such as the economy being a closed economy, no government activity being involved, optimal competition existed in markets, all machinery was similar, only two commodities were considered- consumption good and capital good etc.
Also, the net output was dependant on four factors i.e., net stock of capital available, amount of available labour force, availability of land and natural resources and state of technical knowledge.
Other literary works published by him include ‘National Income and Expenditure’ with Richard Stone (1944), ‘The Theory of International Economic Policy’ (1951-1955), ‘Efficiency, Equality, and the Ownership of Property’ (1964), ‘Wage Fixing’ (1982), ‘Demand Management’ with David Vines (1983).