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The future of the working classes: a comparison between J.S. Mill and A. Marshall


  • Arrigo Opocher


Both J. S. Mill and A. Marshall had a lifelong interest in the living conditions of the working classes and theorized the possibility of a new age, characterized by a widespread mental and moral cultivation. This paper compares the precise arguments put forward by them in the period ranging from Mill's to Marshall's Principles, against the background of the evidence of social and human progress at their times. It is argued that, at different stages and with different specific arguments, their predictions relied on self-reinforcing mechanisms, in which a better life was the cause, no less than the effect, of progress. In order to make similarities and differences more transparent from a logical point of view, two simple mathematical formulations are proposed.

Suggested Citation

  • Arrigo Opocher, 2010. "The future of the working classes: a comparison between J.S. Mill and A. Marshall," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(2), pages 229-253.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:eujhet:v:17:y:2010:i:2:p:229-253 DOI: 10.1080/09672561003718649

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christophe Salvat, 2007. "L'échange et la loi. Le statut de la rationalité chez Rousseau," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 58(2), pages 381-398.
    2. Pierre Force, 2006. "First Principles in Translation: The Axiom of Self-Interest from Adam Smith to Jean-Baptiste Say," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 319-338, Summer.
    3. Andres Alvarez, 2004. "Learning to choose a commodity-money: Carl Menger's theory of imitation and the search monetary framework," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 53-78.
    4. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
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    Cited by:

    1. Arrigo Opocher, 2010. "Measuring productivity increase by long-run prices: the early analyses of G.R. Porter and R. Giffen," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(5), pages 1271-1291.
    2. Opocher, Arrigo, 2009. "A Dual-Solovian Measure of Productivity Increase and its Early Antecedents," MPRA Paper 15541, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    J.S. Mill; Marshall; Living standards;


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