190. A. C. Pigou to Harrod , [8 December 1930] [a]

King's Col[lege, Cambridge]

[8 December 1930] [1]

Dear Harrod,

I've just been reading your ingenious note about income-utility curves. [2] As it's about my book, [3] you may care to have my reactions.

The point of your third paragraph is given substantially in my ch. VII, §12, [b] --a different chapter from that discussing the form of the curves, so you may not have noticed it.

I think a man's effort-demand curve in your sense has a shape consequent upon the shape of his income-utility curve. Therefore it may be possible to deduce the second from the first. But it does not seem to me any easier to know the first from the second [c] , e.g. what you say on the prop of p. 706 might equally well be said, <directly> [d] , about the income-utility curve,--if a man is very poor this is bound to be steep. You do not seem to have seen Fisher's paper "A statistical method of measuring marginal utility and testing the justice of progressive-income tax" [e] . [4] I'm referring to it in my about-to-appear second edition. [5] It's got a new and very ingenious method of trying to determine the curve.


ACP] [f]

  1. 1. The date is not indicated. However, the postmarks on the two envelopes preserved in the same folder as this letter (see source note a ) suggest as a conjecture that the letter was sent by Pigou on 8 December; Harrod, having found it illegible, forwarded it to Robertson for help, and the latter sent it back on 15 December. Only then Harrod could fully appreciate its content.

    2. Harrod, "Progressive Taxation and Equal Sacrifice" ( 1930:5 ).

    3. A. C. Pigou, A Study in Public Finance London: Macmillan, 1928 1 .

    4. I. Fisher, "A Statistical Method for Measuring `Marginal Utility' and Testing the Justice of a Progressive Income Tax", in Economic Essays Contributed in Honor of John Bates Clark, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1927, pp. 157-93.

    5. A. C. Pigou, A Study in Public Finance London: Macmillan, 1929 2 . Fisher's article is cited on pp. 116-17.

    1. a. ALS, three pages on a single folded sheet, and transcription of the same letter on one page in Robertson's handwriting, in the same folder HP IV-954-957. Two envelopes are preserved, both sent from Cambridge: one in Pigou's handwriting, postmarked 8 December 1930, addressed to F. R. Harrod, Christ's Church, Oxford; the other in Robertson's handwriting, addressed to R. Harrod Esq., 34 Campden Hill Gardens, W8; on this envelope Harrod wrote (in his post-war handwriting): "Letter from Pigou transcribed by DHR". (The cataloguer of the Harrod Papers wrongly attributes the first envelope to another undated letter by Pigou, which, however, mentions the 1949 devaluation: see Riley-Smith, The Papers of Sir Roy Harrod, Norfolk, undated but 1982, p. 97.) Since Harrod presumably read Robertson's transcription, this is rendered here in the text, while recognizable differences with Pigou's original are reported in the source notes.

      b. Pigou's original: «Ch VII. §12». Punctuation added after «ch».

      c. Pigou's original: «know 1st from second».

      d. Robertson wrote a question mark above this word.

      e. Pigou omitted to close the inverted comma.

      f. Robertson omitted salutation (abbreviated «Yrs.») and Pigou's initials.

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