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The Relationship of Wages to the Value of Labour-Power in Marx's Labour Market


  • Green, Francis


Having explicitly rejected Malthus' law of population, Marx asserted in his early writings that it was competition that would keep wages fluctuating the value of labor-power, even though he did not consider the production of labor-power to be a capitalist process. This paper notes the inconsistency in this approach and then proposes that, implicit in Marx's mature works, there is a consistent mechanism through which wages gravitate toward the value of labor-power: this uses both the flexible "historical and moral" element of the value of labor-power and the reserve army hypothesis. This combination explains why wages follow a relatively even path over time. A model of the labor market is developed which appears to be consistent with Marx's mature writing. Copyright 1991 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Green, Francis, 1991. "The Relationship of Wages to the Value of Labour-Power in Marx's Labour Market," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 199-213, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:15:y:1991:i:2:p:199-213

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    Cited by:

    1. Francis Green, 1999. "It's been a hard day's night: The concentration and intensification of work in late 20th century Britain," Studies in Economics 9913, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    2. Levrero, Enrico Sergio, 2009. "Marx on absolute and relative wages," MPRA Paper 20976, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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