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David Ricardo, Robert Torrens and the Origins of the Principle of Comparative Advantage

  • Martin Grančay
  • Nóra Szikorová

The authorship of the principle of comparative advantage is generally credited to David Ricardo. Recent papers published in scientific journals have cast doubt on this axiom and have debated roles of Robert Torrens, James Mill and John Stuart Mill in its history. We show many of the arguments used in this debate are unscientific and unverifiable. After conducting an analysis of the history of development of the principle we define the difference between minimum satisfactory and complex formulation of the principle. We come to the conclusion that the first satisfactory explanation of comparative advantage was offered by Robert Torrens.

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Article provided by University of Economics, Prague in its journal Politická ekonomie.

Volume (Year): 2012 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 380-394

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Handle: RePEc:prg:jnlpol:v:2012:y:2012:i:3:id:847:p:380-394
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  1. Maneschi, Andrea, 2004. "The true meaning of David Ricardo's four magic numbers," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 433-443, March.
  2. Aldrich, John, 2004. "The Discovery of Comparative Advantage," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(03), pages 379-399, September.
  3. Roy J. Ruffin, 2002. "David Ricardo's Discovery of Comparative Advantage," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 34(4), pages 727-748, Winter.
  4. William O. Thweatt, 1976. "James Mill and the Early Development of Comparative Advantage," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 207-234, Summer.
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