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The Growth of Unproductive Activities, the Rate of Profit, and the Phase-Change of the U.S. Economy


  • Dimitris Paitaridis

    (University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece)

  • Lefteris Tsoulfidis

    (University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece)


This paper by using the categories of productive and unproductive labor and by extending and further elaborating the data series utilized in Shaikh and Tonak (1994) reveals a sharp expansion of the unproductive activities in the U.S. economy during the period 1964-2007. The combination of growing productivity and the stagnant or even falling real wages of productive workers increased the rate of surplus value in the recent decades to unprecedented highs. As a consequence, the general rate of profit from the early 1980s onwards was also rising until the last years of our analysis; meanwhile the net rate of profit remained at levels much lower than those of the 1960s and the slightly rising trend during the post-1980s has been already reversed. The patterns of these crucial variables reveal startling similarities with the onset of the slowdown that started in the mid- to late 1960s.JEL classification: B5, E1, O51

Suggested Citation

  • Dimitris Paitaridis & Lefteris Tsoulfidis, 2012. "The Growth of Unproductive Activities, the Rate of Profit, and the Phase-Change of the U.S. Economy," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 44(2), pages 213-233, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:reorpe:v:44:y:2012:i:2:p:213-233

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    Cited by:

    1. Tsoulfidis, Lefteris & Paitaridis, Dimitris, 2017. "Capital Intensity, Unproductive Activities and the Great Recession of the US Economy," MPRA Paper 81542, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Malikane, Christopher, 2017. "Profitability and Crisis in the South African Economy," MPRA Paper 76165, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Mavroudeas, Stavros D., 2015. "The Greek saga: competing explanations of the Greek crisis," Economics Discussion Papers 2015-1, School of Economics, Kingston University London.
    4. Tsoulfidis, Lefteris, 2013. "The ‘new golden age of accumulation’, the new depression and the greek economy," MPRA Paper 60577, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. John B. Davis & Wilfred Dolfsma (ed.), 2015. "The Elgar Companion to Social Economics, Second Edition," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15954.
    6. Tsoulfidis, Lefter, 2014. "Κρίση, Σύγχρονος Καπιταλισμός Και Ταξικές Ανακατατάξεις
      [Economic Crisis, Modern Capitalism and Class Realliances]
      ," MPRA Paper 62692, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2015.
    7. Tsoulfidis, Lefteris & Tsimis, Achilleas & Paitaridis, Dimitris, 2018. "The Rise and Fall of Unproductive Activities in the US Economy 1964-2015: Facts, Theory and Empirical Evidence," MPRA Paper 84035, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Basu, Deepankar, 2015. "A Selective Review of Recent Quantitative Empirical Research in Marxist Political Economy," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2015-05, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    9. Phillip Anthony O’Hara, 2013. "Policies and Institutions for Moderating Deep Recessions, Debt Crises and Financial Instabilities," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 60(1), pages 19-49, March.

    More about this item


    unproductive labor; surplus value; rate of profit; U.S. economy;

    JEL classification:

    • B5 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches
    • E1 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada


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