Jules Dupuit

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Jules Dupuit
Jules Dupuit
Born18 May 1804 (1804-05-18)
Fossano, Italy
Died5 September 1866 (1866-09-06) (aged 62)
Alma mater École Polytechnique
Scientific career
FieldsEconomics, Engineering
Influenced Alfred Marshall

Arsène Jules Étienne Juvenel Dupuit (18 May 1804 – 5 September 1866) was an Italian-born French civil engineer and economist.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.

Civil engineer engineer specialising in design, construction and maintenance of the built environment

A civil engineer is a person who practices civil engineering – the application of planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, and operating infrastructures while protecting the public and environmental health, as well as improving existing infrastructures that have been neglected.

Economist professional in the social science discipline of economics

An economist is a practitioner in the social science discipline of economics.


He was born in Fossano, Italy then under the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte. At the age of ten he emigrated to France with his family where he studied in Versailles — winning a Physics prize at graduation. He then studied in the École Polytechnique as a civil engineer. He gradually took on more responsibility in various regional posts. He received a Légion d'honneur in 1843 for his work on the French road system, and shortly after moved to Paris. He also studied flood management in 1848 and supervised the construction of the Paris sewer system. He died in Paris.

Fossano Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Fossano is a town and comune of Piedmont, northern Italy. It is the fourth largest town of the Province of Cuneo, after Cuneo, Alba and Bra.

Versailles, Yvelines Prefecture and commune in Île-de-France, France

Versailles is a city in the Yvelines département in the Île-de-France region, renowned worldwide for the Château de Versailles and the gardens of Versailles, designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Located in the western suburbs of the French capital, 17.1 km (10.6 mi) from the centre of Paris, Versailles is in the 21st century a wealthy suburb of Paris with a service-based economy and a major tourist destination as well. According to the 2008 census, the population of the city is 88,641 inhabitants, down from a peak of 94,145 in 1975.

École Polytechnique French institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau

École polytechnique is a French public institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau, a suburb southwest of Paris. It is one of the most prestigious and selective French scientific and engineering schools, called grandes écoles in French. It is known for its ingénieur polytechnicien scientific degree program which is equivalent to both a bachelor and master of science. Its entrance exam, the X-ENS exam, is renowned for its selectivity with a little over 500 admitted students out of the 53 848 students enrolled in the preparatory programs for the French scientific and engineering schools entrance exams.

Engineering questions led to his interest in economics, a subject in which he was self-taught. His 1844 article was concerned with deciding the optimum toll for a bridge. It was here that he introduced his curve of diminishing marginal utility. As the quantity of a good consumed rises, the marginal utility of the good declines for the user. So the lower the toll (lower marginal utility), the more people who would use the bridge (higher consumption). Conversely as the quantity rises (people allowed on the bridge), the willingness of a person to pay for that good (the price) declines.

Toll bridge

A toll bridge is a bridge where a monetary charge is required to pass over. Generally the private or public owner builder and maintainer of the bridge uses the toll to recoup their investment, in much the same way as a toll road.

In economics, utility is the satisfaction or benefit derived by consuming a product; thus the marginal utility of a good or service is the change in the utility from an increase in the consumption of that good or service.

Thus, the concept of diminishing marginal utility should translate itself into a downward-sloping demand function. In this way he identified the demand curve as the marginal utility curve. This was the first time an economist had put forward a theory of demand derived from marginal utility. Although not the first time that the demand curve had been drawn, it was the first time that it had been proved rather than asserted. Dupuit, however, did not include a supply curve in his theory.

Dupuit went on to define "relative utility" as the area under the demand/marginal utility curve above the price and used it as a measure of the welfare effects of different prices – concluding that public welfare is maximized when the price (or bridge toll) is zero. This was later known as Marshall's "consumer surplus".

Within economics the concept of utility is used to model worth or value, but its usage has evolved significantly over time. The term was introduced initially as a measure of pleasure or satisfaction within the theory of utilitarianism by moral philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. But the term has been adapted and reapplied within neoclassical economics, which dominates modern economic theory, as a utility function that represents a consumer's preference ordering over a choice set. As such, it is devoid of its original interpretation as a measurement of the pleasure or satisfaction obtained by the consumer from that choice.

Alfred Marshall British economist

Alfred Marshall, FBA was one of the most influential economists of his time. His book, Principles of Economics (1890), was the dominant economic textbook in England for many years. It brings the ideas of supply and demand, marginal utility, and costs of production into a coherent whole. He is known as one of the founders of neoclassical economics. Although Marshall took economics to a more mathematically rigorous level, he did not want mathematics to overshadow economics and thus make economics irrelevant to the layman.

Dupuit's reputation as an economist does not rest on his advocacy of laissez-faire economics (he wrote "Commercial Freedom" in 1861) but on frequent contributions to periodicals. Wanting to evaluate the net economic benefit of public services, Dupuit analysed capacities for economic development, and attempted to construct a framework for utility theory and measuring the prosperity derived with public works. He also wrote on monopoly and price discrimination.

Laissez-faire is an economic system in which transactions between private parties are free from government intervention such as regulation, privileges, tariffs and subsidies. The phrase laissez-faire is part of a larger French phrase and literally translates to "let (it/them) do", but in this context usually means "let go".

Price discrimination

Price discrimination is a microeconomic pricing strategy where identical or largely similar goods or services are transacted at different prices by the same provider in different markets. Price discrimination is distinguished from product differentiation by the more substantial difference in production cost for the differently priced products involved in the latter strategy. Price differentiation essentially relies on the variation in the customers' willingness to pay and in the elasticity of their demand.

Dupuit also considered the groundwater flow equation, which governs the flow of groundwater. He assumed that the equation could be simplified for analytical solutions by assuming that groundwater is hydrostatic and flows horizontally. This assumption is regularly used today, and is known by hydrogeologists as the Dupuit assumption.

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Microeconomics is a branch of economics that studies the behaviour of individuals and firms in making decisions regarding the allocation of scarce resources and the interactions among these individuals and firms.

Neoclassical economics is an approach to economics focusing on the determination of goods, outputs, and income distributions in markets through supply and demand. This determination is often mediated through a hypothesized maximization of utility by income-constrained individuals and of profits by firms facing production costs and employing available information and factors of production, in accordance with rational choice theory, a theory that has come under considerable question in recent years.

In economics, specifically general equilibrium theory, a perfect market is defined by several idealizing conditions, collectively called perfect competition. In theoretical models where conditions of perfect competition hold, it has been theoretically demonstrated that a market will reach an equilibrium in which the quantity supplied for every product or service, including labor, equals the quantity demanded at the current price. This equilibrium would be a Pareto optimum.

Supply and demand economic model of price determination in microeconomics

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Economic surplus economic supply that exceeds demand

In mainstream economics, economic surplus, also known as total welfare or Marshallian surplus, refers to two related quantities. Consumer surplus or consumers' surplus is the monetary gain obtained by consumers because they are able to purchase a product for a price that is less than the highest price that they would be willing to pay. Producer surplus or producers' surplus is the amount that producers benefit by selling at a market price that is higher than the least that they would be willing to sell for; this is roughly equal to profit.

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<i>Principles of Economics</i> (Menger) book by Carl Menger

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Marginalism is a theory of economics that attempts to explain the discrepancy in the value of goods and services by reference to their secondary, or marginal, utility. The reason why the price of diamonds is higher than that of water, for example, owes to the greater additional satisfaction of the diamonds over the water. Thus, while the water has greater total utility, the diamond has greater marginal utility.

In economics, the cost-of-production theory of value is the theory that the price of an object or condition is determined by the sum of the cost of the resources that went into making it. The cost can comprise any of the factors of production and taxation.

Welfare economics is a branch of economics that uses microeconomic techniques to evaluate well-being (welfare) at the aggregate (economy-wide) level. A typical methodology begins with the derivation of a social welfare function, which can then be used to rank economically feasible allocations of resources in terms of the social welfare they entail. Such functions typically include measures of economic efficiency and equity, though more recent attempts to quantify social welfare have included a broader range of measures including economic freedom.

Allocative efficiency is a state of the economy in which production represents consumer preferences; in particular, every good or service is produced up to the point where the last unit provides a marginal benefit to consumers equal to the marginal cost of producing.

Hermann Heinrich Gossen was a Prussian economist who is often regarded as the first to elaborate a general theory of marginal utility.

Arnold Carl Harberger is an American economist. Harberger's triangle, the deadweight loss that may be caused by seller monopoly power, taxation, or externally imposed minimum or maximum prices, is named after him.

Enrico Barone was a soldier, military historian, and an economist.

Robert Ekelund American economist

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Kinked demand economic theory regarding oligopoly and monopolistic competition

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<i>Principles of Economics</i> (Marshall) 1890 economics textbook

Principles of Economics is a leading political economy or economics textbook of Alfred Marshall (1842–1924), first published in 1890. It ran into many editions and was the standard text for generations of economics students.

This glossary of economics is a list of definitions of terms and concepts used in economics, its sub-disciplines, and related fields.


See also