Jules Dupuit, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Date of Death


Jules Dupuit

French economist and civil engineer

Date of Birth: 18-May-1804

Place of Birth: Fossano, Piedmont, Italy

Date of Death: 05-Sep-1866

Profession: engineer, economist, engineer of roads and bridges, civil engineer

Nationality: France

Zodiac Sign: Taurus

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About Jules Dupuit

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