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Sir Alexander (Alec) Kirkland Cairncross


1911 - 1998

Economist. Born in Lesmahagow (South Lanarkshire), the son of an ironmonger, Cairncross was educated at Hamilton Academy and the University of Glasgow, followed by Trinity College, Cambridge. He returned to Glasgow as a lecturer in 1935, working in the Ministry of Aircraft Production during World War II, but published his Introduction to Economics in 1944. Cairncross subsequently became an advisor to the Board of Trade but, in 1949, was was seconded to be an economic advisor to the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) in Paris. In 1951, Cairncross took the Chair of Applied Economics in Glasgow. He was the principal mover in the foundation of the Scottish Economic Society, becoming the first Editor of its Scottish Journal of Political Economy in 1954. Cairncross served as an Economic Adviser to the Government (1961-64), Head of the Government Economic Service (1964-69) and Master of St Peters College Oxford (1969-78). He served as Chancellor of the University of Glasgow (1972-96) and was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

The Scottish Economic Society instituted the Cairncross Prize in his memory.


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