Colin Grant Clark (2 November 1905 – 4 September 1989) was a British and Australian economist and statistician who worked in both the United Kingdom and Australia. He pioneered the use of the gross national product ("GNP") as the basis for studying national economies.
Colin Clark was born in London in 1905 and was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford. He then studied at Winchester College, then at Brasenose College, Oxford where he graduated in Chemistry in 1928. After graduation he worked as a research assistant with William Beveridge at the London School of Economics (1928–29) and then with Sir Alexander Carr-Saunders and Allyn Young at the University of Liverpool (1929–30). During this time he ran unsuccessful campaigns to be elected to parliament for the British Labour Party in the seat of North Dorset (1929), and later for Liverpool Wavertree (1931) and South Norfolk (1935). In 1930 he was appointed a research assistant to the Economic Advisory Council newly convened by Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald. He resigned shortly after his appointment, after being asked to write a background memorandum to make a case for protectionism. Despite this, he had sufficiently impressed one of the council members (John Maynard Keynes) to secure an appointment as a lecturer in statistics at Cambridge University.
He was a lecturer in Statistics in Cambridge from 1931 to 1938 where he completed three books: "The National Income 1924–31" (1932), "The Economic Position of Great Britain" (jointly with A.C Pigou) (1936) and "National Income and Outlay" (1937). His first book was sent to the publisher Daniel Macmillan with a recommendation from Keynes: "[...] Clark is, I think, a bit of a genius: almost the only economic statistician I have ever met who seems to me quite first-class."
During a visit to Australia and New Zealand in 1937 and 1938 he accepted a position with the Queensland Government at the invitation of the premier Forgan Smith. At the time he wrote to Keynes about his decision to stay in Australia. As he put it, the chance to advise the Queensland Premier on 'practically everything connected with economic matters' was 'too remarkable an opportunity to be missed for putting economics into practice'
On 6 May 1938, he was appointed Government Statistician, Director of the Bureau of Industry, and Financial Advisor to Queensland Treasury, and provided the State's first set of economic accounts in 1940. He also held the position of Deputy Director (Queensland) of the Commonwealth Department of War Organisation of Industry from 1942 to 1946. Clark resigned as Government Statistician on 28 February 1947 to become Under Secretary of the Queensland Department of Labour and Industry.