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The Assumption of Constant Returns to Scale


  • Hicks, John


Nicholas Kaldor was right to maintain that this assumption is unrealistic, but that does not mean that it is useless. There are propositions that can be proved assuming it, which would never have been found without it, but that look as if they are independent of it. Two examples: (1) Paul Samuelson's factor-price equalization theorem in international trade and (2) the author's theory of relations between factors in production (" elasticity of substitution" in a modern form). P-and q-substitutes (complements) must be distinguished. Weakly related factors are p-substitutes and q-complements. This is the only case when no more than two factors are present. Otherwise, two factors (out of many) may be strong substitutes (substitutes both ways) or strong complements (complements both ways). The excluded case, when they would be p-complements and q-substitutes, appears, in the presence of scale economies, to be excluded a fortiori. Copyright 1989 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Hicks, John, 1989. "The Assumption of Constant Returns to Scale," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 9-17, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:13:y:1989:i:1:p:9-17

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. Krugman, Paul, 1989. "Differences in income elasticities and trends in real exchange rates," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 1031-1046, May.
    3. Pesaran, M.H. & Shin, Y., 1995. "An Autoregressive Distributed Lag Modelling Approach to Cointegration Analysis," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9514, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    4. Pesaran, M Hashem, 1997. "The Role of Economic Theory in Modelling the Long Run," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 178-191, January.
    5. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    6. Granger, Clive W J, 1997. "On Modelling the Long Run in Applied Economics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 169-177, January.
    7. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 71-102, October.
    8. Targetti, Ferdinando & Foti, Alessandro, 1997. "Growth and Productivity: A Model of Cumulative Growth and Catching Up," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 27-43, January.
    9. Young, Allyn A., 1928. "Increasing Returns and Economic Progress," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 38, pages 527-542.
    10. Perron, Pierre, 1989. "The Great Crash, the Oil Price Shock, and the Unit Root Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1361-1401, November.
    11. Dixon, R & Thirlwall, A P, 1975. "A Model of Regional Growth-Rate Differences on Kaldorian Lines," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(2), pages 201-214, July.
    12. Granger, C W J, 1969. "Investigating Causal Relations by Econometric Models and Cross-Spectral Methods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(3), pages 424-438, July.
    13. Perron, Pierre, 1990. "Testing for a Unit Root in a Time Series with a Changing Mean," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(2), pages 153-162, April.
    14. Granger, C. W. J., 1988. "Some recent development in a concept of causality," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1-2), pages 199-211.
    15. Kaldor, Nicholas, 1970. "The Case for Regional Policies," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 17(3), pages 337-348, November.
    16. Romer, Paul M, 1987. "Growth Based on Increasing Returns Due to Specialization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 56-62, May.
    17. Setterfield, Mark, 1997. "'History versus Equilibrium' and the Theory of Economic Growth," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 365-378, May.
    18. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jacques-Laurent Ravix, 1997. "Fondements critiques pour une analyse de la dynamique industrielle : la méthode de Allyn Young," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 48(4), pages 965-988.
    2. repec:dgr:rugsom:98c44 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Carcillo, S. & Reiffers, V., 2000. "La critique d'Ad Hocite en economie - L'exemple des Theories de la croissance," Papiers d'Economie Mathématique et Applications 2000.23, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1).
    4. Knaap, T., 1998. "A survey of complementaries in growth and location theories," Research Report 98C44, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    5. Sumit Majumdar, 1999. "Comparative Organizational Characteristics of Indian State-Owned Enterprises," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 15(2), pages 165-182, September.
    6. Alam, M. Shahid, 2013. "Constant Returns to Scale: Can the Neoclassical Economy Exist?," MPRA Paper 45153, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. M. Shahid Alam, 2016. "Commodities in Economics: Loving or Hating Complexity," Economic Thought, World Economics Association, vol. 5(1), pages 1-1, March.

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