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A Note on Capital as a Concept in Principles of Economics Textbooks


  • James R. Gale

    (Michigan Technological University)


This paper examines the way in which principles of economics textbooks treat the concept of capital. A number of textbooks are reviewed and are shown to exhibit consistencies and inconsistencies in the use of the word "capital" in different contexts within the main body of textbooks and in definitions found in glossaries. Included in the paper is a discussion of the new concept of capital found in international balance of payments accounting. The general conclusions of the paper are that authors should use multiple definitions in glossaries and that they and instructors should highlight potential sources of confusion in the use of technical economic terms to first readers of economics.

Suggested Citation

  • James R. Gale, 2004. "A Note on Capital as a Concept in Principles of Economics Textbooks," Journal of Economic Insight (formerly the Journal of Economics (MVEA)), Missouri Valley Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 97-104.
  • Handle: RePEc:mve:journl:v:30:y:2004:i:2:p:97-104

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    JEL classification:

    • A22 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Undergraduate


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