English Keynesian economist who shared the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1977 with Swedish economist Bertil Ohlin for his work on international trade. However, his early studies of national income accounting and his liberal-radical writings on policy questions might have served equally well as deserving of special praise. Moreover, in the great disputes that surround the rise of Keynesian economics before and after World War II, his amiable and courteous defence of Keynes helped to smooth the troubled waters of British economics.
In 1938 he left academic life in Oxford for the League of Nations in Geneva, moving back to the UK in 1940 to serve as director to the Economic Section of the British Cabinet Office. In 1947 he returned to academic life as professor of commerce at the London School of Economics. In 1957 he became professor of political economy at the University of Cambridge, where he remained for over ten years. His continuous concern with problems of income distribution and his deeply held belief that capital is too unequally distributed in the UK and the USA, are reflected in a long series of works in applied economics. He chaired an influential British committee of inquiry into The Structure and Reform of Direct Taxation (1978), whose recommendations bear the unmistakable stamp of his characteristic approach to issues of policy.
Meade was educated privately at Malvern College and entered Cambridge University in 1925, graduating in 1928. Switching fields, he went to Oxford University where he obtained a second bachelor's degree in 1930. Taking up a teaching post at Hertford College, Oxford, in 1930, he was nevertheless deeply involved in the Cambridge ‘circus’ around Keynes and was one of the first to embody the Keynesian framework in a textbook which appeared only a few months after Keynes's General Theory (1936).
Having been president of Section F of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1957, honorary member of the American Economic Association in 1962, president of the Royal Economic Society 1964–66, and the recipient of many honorary degrees, Meade himself has described his lifetime's work as that of a ‘tool-setter’ rather than a tool-maker or even a tool-user.
His publications include An Introduction to Economic Analysis and Policy (1936); Theory of International Economic Policy (1951, 1955), The Theory of Custom Unions (1955), A Neo-Classical Theory of Economic Growth (1961), The Intelligent Radical's Guide to Economic Policy (1975), Stagflation (1981, 1983), and Collected Papers (1988–89).