Nearer to Straffa than Marx: Adam Smith on productive and unproductive labour
AbstractWe investigate Adam SmithÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s analysis of the properties of what he called ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œproductiveÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â - as against ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œunproductiveÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â - labour, a concept which commentators have frequently found problematic. Puzzles have been noted and inconsistency alleged. A question arises ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ did Smith confuse two different concepts of productive labour? We believe that, despite the apparent problems, a coherent reading of SmithÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s account of productive and unproductive labour is in fact possible: if ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œproductive labourÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â is understood to refer comprehensively to labour which not only maintains but, through producing a net surplus, adds to the communityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s stock of wealth ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ as regards either the financial or the real resources which make possible economic growth ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ the difficulties with SmithÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s treatment largely disappear.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1304.
Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: May 2013
Date of revision:
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Productive/unproductive labour; basic/non-basic goods; surplus production;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- B12 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Classical (includes Adam Smith)
- E11 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Marxian; Sraffian; Institutional; Evolutionary
- O11 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-07-28 (All new papers)
- NEP-HME-2013-07-28 (Heterodox Microeconomics)
- NEP-HPE-2013-07-28 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
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