David Ricardo, Economist

David Ricardo had a varied upbringing. He was born in 1772 and was the third of 17 children. His parents were very successful and his father was a wealthy merchant banker. They lived at first in the Netherlands and then moved to London. David himself had little formal education  and went to work for his father at the age of 14. However, when, at the age of 21, he married a Quaker and converted to the faith (against his parents wishes) he was disinherited and so set up on his own as a stockbroker. He was phenomenally successful at this and was able to retire at 42 and concentrate on his writings and politics. 

He developed many important areas of economic theory, including the law of comparative advantage.  He was great friends with other classical economists - Thomas Malthus and Jean-Baptiste Say. Along with Malthus he was fairly pessimistic about the long-term prognosis for society, and so has been proved well and truly wrong on that score (so far?). However, much of the theory he developed is still used and taught today.

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