Meade was brought up in the city of Bath, Somerset in south-west England. He attended the Lambrook school in Berkshire from 1917 to 1921, where his education revolved around the Greek and Latin languages. In his time in Oriel College, Oxford, Meade switched at the end of his second year from Greats to Philosophy, Politics and Economics which was a very new concept at that time having started only in 1921. Meade's interest in economics grew due to various reasons.
Meade was born in Swanage, Dorset. He was educated at Malvern College and attended Oriel College, Oxford in 1926 to read Greats, but switched to Philosophy, Politics and Economics and gained an outstanding first. His interest in economics grew from an influential postgraduate year at Christ's College, Cambridge and Trinity College, Cambridge (1930–31), where he held frequent discussions with leading economists of the time including Dennis Robertson and John Maynard Keynes.
In 1930 Meade was elected to a fellowship at Hertford College, Oxford. There he received the option of continuing his study of economics as a post graduate student. In 1930–31 Meade joined Trinity College, Cambridge after being invited to do so by Dennis Robertson whom he met through his great aunt.
Meade made lecturer at Hertford College, Oxford in 1931 and continued until 1937. Meade along with young enthusiasts such as Roy Harrod, Henry Phelps Brown, Charlie Hitch, Robert Hall, Lindley Fraser, Maurice Allen and Eric Hargreaves, who was his old tutor at Oriel College, started the concept of teaching economics as a regular subject for examination which was relatively new at Oxford. Meade was assigned with the responsibility of teaching the whole subject of economic theory. The economics of mass-unemployment and international economics interested Meade in particular. At that time Oxford had a really strong branch of the League of Nations Union with Gilbert Murray as its chairman and Margaret Wilson as its secretary who eventually married Meade. Meade made the member of the economics section of the League of Nations in Geneva in 1937. He worked as the main Editor of the journal "World Economic Survey" and published the 17th and the 18th editions.
In April 1940 Meade was forced to leave Geneva for England with his family of three children because of the war. He became a member of the Economic Section of the War Cabinet Secretariat in England and remained member until 1947 rising to the post of Director in 1946. Meade was joined by Lionel Robbins and Keynes and together they used the section to solve everyday economic problems ranging from the rationing system to the pricing policy of nationalized companies. Meade became the professor of trade at London School of Economics in 1947 where the Economics department was headed by Lionel Robbins. While he was in Oxford, Meade had written a short textbook titled "An Introduction to Economic Analysis and Policy." Meade believed it was time to rewrite the book while teaching international economics, more precisely the theory of international economic policy. It slowly cultivated into Meade's two books, The Balance of Payments (1951) and Trade and Welfare (1955).
After working in the League of Nations and the Cabinet Office, he was the leading Economist of the early years of Attlee's government, before taking professorships at LSE (1947–57) and Cambridge (1957–67).
In 1957 Meade moved from London to the chair of political economy in Cambridge, which he held until 1967, after which he resigned to become a senior research fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge. Meade left the fellowship at the retirement age in 1974. During this time Meade started thinking about writing one or two volumes on the domestic aspects of economic theory and policy. He successfully wrote four volumes in this series namely The Stationary Economy, The Growing Economy, The Controlled Economy, and The Just Economy. Even after the four volumes Meade still believed that he had just made the beginning. He believed that the frontiers of knowledge when it comes to economics keep expanding at such a rate that it was almost impossible to establish a soundly based understanding of the entire subject and its ever-evolving parts.
In 1974 Meade took time off to act as full-time chairman of a committee set up by the Institute for Fiscal Studies to examine the structure of direct taxation in the United Kingdom. The committee consisted of a number of first-rate economic theorists and of leading practitioners in tax law, accountancy and administration.
In 1976, he was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) by the University of Bath.
The two books took Meade a decade to complete, however according to him they still did not cover the entire field of international economic policy since he had given less attention to the issue of international aspects of economic growth or dynamic imbalance. Despite his words, Meade shared the Nobel Prize in Economics along with Bertil Ohlin in 1977.
The same result can be obtained by multiplying the proportion of the national income going to profits , the proportion of the national income which is saved and the annual income to capital stock ratio Our numerical Example is: percent per annum.
Equation 3 shows that the growth rate of real income per head (y – l) is the output of three factors.