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The Assumption of Constant Returns to Scale


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  • Hicks, John


Nicholas Kaldor was right to maintain that this assumption is unrealistic, but that does not mean that it is useless. There are propositions that can be proved assuming it, which would never have been found without it, but that look as if they are independent of it. Two examples: (1) Paul Samuelson's factor-price equalization theorem in international trade and (2) the author's theory of relations between factors in production (" elasticity of substitution" in a modern form). P-and q-substitutes (complements) must be distinguished. Weakly related factors are p-substitutes and q-complements. This is the only case when no more than two factors are present. Otherwise, two factors (out of many) may be strong substitutes (substitutes both ways) or strong complements (complements both ways). The excluded case, when they would be p-complements and q-substitutes, appears, in the presence of scale economies, to be excluded a fortiori. Copyright 1989 by Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Cambridge Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 13 (1989)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 9-17

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Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:13:y:1989:i:1:p:9-17

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Cited by:
  1. Alam, M. Shahid, 2013. "Constant Returns to Scale: Can the Neoclassical Economy Exist?," MPRA Paper 45153, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Sumit Majumdar, 1999. "Comparative Organizational Characteristics of Indian State-Owned Enterprises," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 165-182, September.
  3. Knaap, T., 1998. "A survey of complementaries in growth and location theories," Research Report 98C44, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
  4. Stéphane CARCILLO & Véronique REIFFERS, 2001. "La critique d’ad hocité en économie. L’exemple des théories de la croissance," Discussion Papers (REL - Recherches Economiques de Louvain) 2001025, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).


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