Richard Jones (1790 - 26 January 1855) was an English economist.
Born at Tunbridge Wells, the son of a solicitor, he was intended for the legal profession, and was educated at Caius College, Cambridge. Owing to ill-health, he abandoned the idea of the law and took orders soon after leaving Cambridge. For several years he held curacies in Sussex and Kent. In 1833 he was appointed professor of political economy at King's College London, resigning this post in 1835 to succeed T. R. Malthus in the chair of political economy and history at the East India College at Haileybury. He took an active part in the commutation of tithes in 1836 and showed great ability as a tithe commissioner, an office which he filled till 1851. He was for some time, also, a charity commissioner. He died at Haileybury, shortly after he had resigned his professorship, on the 26th of January 1855.
In 1831 Jones published his Essay on the Distribution of Wealth and on the Sources of Taxation, his most important work. In it he showed himself a thorough-going critic of the Ricardian system.
Jones's method is inductive; his conclusions are founded on a wide observation of contemporary facts, aided by the study of history. The world he professed to study was not an imaginary world, inhabited by abstract "economic men," but the real world with the different forms which the ownership and cultivation of land, and, in general, the conditions of production and distribution, assume at different times and places. His recognition of such different systems of life in communities occupying different stages in the progress of civilization led to his proposal of what he called a "political economy of nations." This was a protest against the practice of taking the exceptional state of facts which exists, and is indeed only partially realized, in a small corner of our planet as representing the uniform type of human societies, and ignoring the effects of the early history and special development of each community as influencing its economic phenomena. Jones is remarkable for his freedom from exaggeration and one-sided statement; thus, whilst holding Malthus in, perhaps, undue esteem, he declines to accept the proposition that an increase of the means of subsistence is necessarily followed by an increase of population; and he maintains what is undoubtedly true, that with the growth of population, in all well-governed and prosperous states, the command over food, instead of diminishing, increases.
A collected edition of Jones's works, with a preface by W. Whewell, was published in 1859.
This article incorporates text from the Encyclopędia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain
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