Marcel Boiteux, a mathematician-turned-economist, was born in Niort on 9 May 1922 and passed away on 6 September 2023. His life and work significantly influenced France’s economic strategies, particularly in the energy sector.
Early Life and Education
Born in 1922, Boiteux pursued rigorous academic endeavors. He graduated from the Ecole Normale in 1942 and furthered his studies by receiving a mathematics aggregation in 1946. His interest in economics took him to the Institute of Political Studies in Paris in 1947. There, he shared classrooms with notable figures like Pierre Moussa.
In 1946, just after his graduation, Boiteux embarked on his professional journey by joining the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). Under the tutelage of Maurice Allais and alongside colleagues like Gérard Debreu, Boiteux benefitted immensely. Debreu, for instance, was awarded a Rockefeller scholarship through Allais’s recommendation.
1949 marked a pivotal turn in Boiteux’s career. He joined EDF (Electricité de France) on 1 April as an engineer in the sales department, again under the recommendation of Maurice Allais. His association with EDF was not a brief affair; it spanned decades and saw him rising to influential positions. In 1959, he was honored as the President of the Econometric Society. By 1967, Boiteux had climbed the ranks to become the director of EDF, a position he held until 1987.
Contributions and Legacy
During his tenure at EDF, Boiteux became instrumental in reshaping France’s energy landscape. He introduced and executed the concept of pricing electricity at its marginal cost. His visionary approach placed him as one of the principal architects behind the development of France’s nuclear industry.
Moreover, his life’s work provides an enlightening view into the socio-professional world of scientists and senior civil services. It unveils insights into a myriad of areas: from research methodologies (like marginal cost) and corporate strategies to the intricate web of relations between the state, public enterprises, and decision-making processes on subjects as vital as nuclear policy.
Recognitions and Later Life
Boiteux’s expertise was not limited to the corporate sphere alone. On December 14, 1992, following the demise of Émile James, he secured a distinguished position in the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences.
A testament to his longevity and enduring spirit, Marcel Boiteux celebrated his 100th birthday on 9 May 2022.
In summary, the life and work of Marcel Boiteux stand as a testimony to a man’s dedication to his nation’s progress, the evolution of an industry, and the profound impact of informed decision-making in shaping a country’s future.