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From profit margins to income distribution: Joan Robinson's odyssey from marginal productivity theory


  • Ingrid Rima


The point of departure for this paper is a 1941 Note on profit margins co-authored by Joan Robinson and Nicholas Kaldor that remained unpublished until 2000. Robinson's reviews of Henry Clay's The Problem of Industrial Relationships, Bresciani Turroni's The Economics of Inflation, and Roy Harrod's Towards a Dynamic Economics, along with her 1965 Cambridge Inaugural Lecture, may be interpreted as analogous documents that develop her critique of neoclassical wage theory and identify the money wage as the economy's 'key' price. These publications were critical steps toward the wage mark-up hypothesis and Post-Keynesian support of incomes policy to contain inflation. Robinson's Harrod review anticipated her later ideas about economic growth. With Kalecki's notion of 'the degree of monopoly' and her own concept of neo-mercantilism (from the Inaugural Lecture), these themes are nascent in the Robinson-Kaldor Note on profit margins.

Suggested Citation

  • Ingrid Rima, 2003. "From profit margins to income distribution: Joan Robinson's odyssey from marginal productivity theory," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(4), pages 575-586.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:15:y:2003:i:4:p:575-586
    DOI: 10.1080/0953825032000121496

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul Davidson, 1994. "Post Keynesian Macroeconomic Theory," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 124.
    2. Anthony P. Thirlwall, 2011. "The Balance of Payments Constraint as an Explanation of International Growth Rate Differences," PSL Quarterly Review, Economia civile, vol. 64(259), pages 429-438.
    3. Nicholas Kaldor & Joan Robinson, 2000. "PROFIT MARGINS INQUIRY: Note on alternative hypotheses as to the determination of Profit Margins," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 267-271.
    4. Eichner, Alfred S & Kregel, J A, 1975. "An Essay on Post-Keynesian Theory: A New Paradigm in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 1293-1314, December.
    5. Hamouda, Omar F & Harcourt, G C, 1988. "Post Keynesianism: From Criticism to Coherence?," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 1-33, January.
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