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A note on Ricardo’s ‘invariable measure of value’


  • Ajit Sinha



This paper presents an alternative to both Sraffa’s and his critics’ interpretations of the nature of Ricardo’s search for an ‘invariable measure of value’. It points out that Ricardo recognised two causes of change in the relative values of commodities: (i) changes in the labour content of commodities and (ii) changes in the distribution of income. However, he characterised the first change as the real change and the second change as only an apparent change. The article argues that Ricardo believed that the apparent changes are solely due to the arbitrary nature of the numéraire and would disappear if the commodities were measured against an ‘invariable measure of value’.

Suggested Citation

  • Ajit Sinha, 2010. "A note on Ricardo’s ‘invariable measure of value’," Cahiers d’économie politique / Papers in Political Economy, L'Harmattan, issue 58, pages 133-144.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpo:journl:y:2010:i:58:p:133-144

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    ‘Invariable Measure of Value’; ‘Labour Theory of Value’; numéraire; Ricardo; Sraffa;

    JEL classification:

    • B12 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Classical (includes Adam Smith)
    • B24 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Socialist; Marxist; Scraffian
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • B51 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Socialist; Marxian; Sraffian


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