John Rae (economist)

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John Rae (1 June 1796, Footdee, Aberdeen – 12 July 1872, Staten Island, NY), was a Scottish/Canadian economist. He was born one of six childrento merchant shipbuilder John Rae and Margaret Cuthbert whose bankruptcy caused him to move to Montreal in 1822, having graduating from Marischal College (University of Aberdeen) in 1815 with the degree of master of arts followed by two years of medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He located in Williamstown (Glengarry County), and later in Hamiliton in Ontario, Canada, where his wife died of cholera. He was well acquainted with the Scottish/Canadian community and affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. In Canada he worked as a timber trader, schoolteacher and a doctor. In 1834, he moved to Boston and New York where he also worked as a teacher. He went on to Central America where he was a physician, and he moved with the gold-miners to California in 1849, and a couple years later, poor and sick of malaria, he finds enough money to board a ship to the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi where he worked as many different professions. He was a medical officer for the Hawaiian Board of Health and vaccinated a number of native children of smallpox. He was geologist and wrote papers on the geology of the islands. He was also a historian in Hāna, Maui, writings articles for the newspaper Polynesian. He also wrote a number of manuscripts, but these were lost in a fire at Lahainaluna Seminary. His most famous work was the Statement of Some New Principles on the Subject of Political Economy. Influenced by both Adam Smith and David Hume, his influence lingered all the way to the 20th century. So much so that economist Irving Fisher and Austrian economist Eugen Böhm von Bawerk prefaced their work with Rae's, thanking him for contributions to modern economics while very few had heard of his work.

The Canadian Economics Association awards the John Rae prize every two years since 1994 to the Canadian economist with "the best research record for the past five years." The prize has been named after John Rae (1796-1872) who did most of his work in Canada and was "a genuine precursor of endogenous growth theory."[1]



  • Goodwin, Craufurd D.W. (1961) - Canadian Economic Thought: The Political Economy of a Developing Nation 1814-1914, Duke University Press
  • James, R. Warren (1965) - John Rae, political economist. An account of his life and a compilation of his main writings (2 vols.), Toronto.
  • Schumpeter, Joseph Aloys (1954) - History of Economic Analysis, New York

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