IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

History of the principle of comparative advantage revisited: what makes a satisfactory definition?

Listed author(s):
  • Martin Grancay


    (Ekonomická Univerzita v Bratislave)

  • Nora Szikorova

    (Ekonomická Univerzita v Bratislave)

The authorship of the principle of comparative advantage has been attributed to different economists, most often to David Ricardo, Robert Torrens or James Mill. The motivation for this paper stems from the assumption that diverging views on authorship of the principle are caused by diverse definitions of its satisfactory formulation. We argue a complete definition of the principle of comparative advantage rests on seven elements and suggest four of them are sufficient to deem a definition satisfactory. Taking into account specifics of the early nineteenth-century economics, only two elements – namely comparison of ratios and statement of gains from trade – were necessary. We analyze ten early nineteenth-century works and determine whether they include these elements. Our research confirms the view that Ricardo was the first to successfully state the principle.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Fabrizio Serra Editore, Pisa - Roma in its journal History of Economic Ideas.

Volume (Year): 21 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 43-68

in new window

Handle: RePEc:hid:journl:v:21:y:2013:3:2:p:43-68
Contact details of provider: Web page:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hid:journl:v:21:y:2013:3:2:p:43-68. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mario Aldo Cedrini)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.