Publication Date


Document Type

Working Paper


Professor John Hall

Journal of Economic Literature Classification Codes

B3, B31, O1, O5

Key Words

Country Studies, Development, Economic Thought, William Petty


This inquiry seeks to establish that during the first part of the 1600s, William Petty generated original contributions to political economy. Subsequent to the Irish rebellion and in the wake of the English occupation of Ireland, Petty led a team of surveyors for measuring out areas of Ireland. The survey that he led mapped selected territories and detailed numerous characteristics, thus employing an early, rudimentary, but highly insightful census method. Petty sought to describe his world objectively and quantitatively through the use of numbers, weights, and measures – rather than subjectively. Petty developed a method of calculation still famously known as political arithmetick, offering an approach for measuring that helped to establish a foundation for modern statistics. With his efforts in undertaking what is known as The Down Survey, Petty offered a synthesized understanding of territory and its prospects for production potential; based upon identifying key components of national wealth that also included well being of a population.


© Clarissa Allen

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