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Retrospectives: Whatever Happened to the Cambridge Capital Theory Controversies?

  • Avi J. Cohen
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    We argue that the Cambridge capital theory controversies of the 1950s to 1970s were the latest in a series of still-unresolved controversies over three deep issues: explaining and justifying the return to capital; Joan Robinson's complaint that, due to path dependence, equilibrium is not an outcome of an economic process and therefore an inadequate tool for analyzing accumulation and growth; and the role of ideology and vision in fuelling controversy when results of simple models are not robust. We predict these important and relevant issues, latent in endogenous growth and real business cycle theories, will erupt in future controversy.

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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/089533003321165010
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    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

    Volume (Year): 17 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
    Pages: 199-214

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:17:y:2003:i:1:p:199-214
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/089533003321165010
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    1. Harcourt,G. C., 1972. "Some Cambridge Controversies in the Theory of Capital," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521096720.
    2. Robert M. Solow, 2000. "The neoclassical theory of growth and distribution," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 53(215), pages 349-381.
    3. Harcourt, G C, 1976. "The Cambridge Controversies: Old Ways and New Horizons-Or Dead End?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(1), pages 25-65, March.
    4. Garegnani, P, 1970. "Heterogeneous Capital, the Production Function and the Theory of Distribution: Reply," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(3), pages 439, July.
    5. Garegnani, P, 1970. "Heterogeneous Capital, the Production Function and the Theory of Distribution," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(3), pages 407-36, July.
    6. Joseph Persky, 2000. "The Neoclassical Advent: American Economics at the Dawn of the 20th Century," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 95-108, Winter.
    7. Robinson, Joan, 1975. "Reswitching: Reply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 53-55, February.
    8. Swan, Trevor W, 2002. "Economic Growth," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(243), pages 375-80, December.
    9. Robinson, Joan, 1975. "The Unimportance of Reswitching," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 32-39, February.
    10. Luigi L. Pasinetti, 2000. "Critique of the neoclassical theory of growth and distribution," BNL Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 53(215), pages 383-431.
    11. Fisher, Franklin M, 1971. "Aggregate Production Functions and the Explanation of Wages: A Simulation Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 53(4), pages 305-25, November.
    12. Luigi L. Pasinetti, 2000. "Critique of the neoclassical theory of growth and distribution," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 53(215), pages 383-431.
    13. Solow, Robert M, 1970. "On the Rate of Return: Reply to Pasinetti," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 80(318), pages 423-28, June.
    14. Pasinetti, Luigi L, 1970. "Again on Capital Theory and Solow's 'Rate of Return'," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 80(318), pages 428-31, June.
    15. T. W. Swan, 1956. "ECONOMIC GROWTH and CAPITAL ACCUMULATION," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 32(2), pages 334-361, November.
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