Tableaux and Systemes: Early French Contributions to Linear Production Models

Albertus Steenge, Richard van den Berg

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Properly speaking the history of linear production modelling begins in the second half of the 18th century. A comparison between Francois Quesnay's Tableaux economiques and Achilles-Nicolas Isnard’s systèmes des richesses provides insights into the various possible directions within this nascent branch of economic analysis. Quesnay presents an idealised model of the French economy, making a number of limiting assumptions to study phenomena of economic growth and decline. Isnard's approach is more general and abstract and focuses on the interplay between reproduction, prices and distribution. The conceptual difficulties in their works, such as Quesnay's implicit assumption of unchanging prices and Isnard's lack of rules for the distribution of the surplus, were encountered again, and solved in different ways, by later theorists such as Leontief, von Neumann and Sraffa.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-30
Number of pages20
JournalPapers in Political Economy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Quesnay
  • Isnard
  • Leontief
  • Input-Output theory
  • simultaneous equations mnodels

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