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Demand-led Growth Theory: A Historical Approach


  • Matthew Smith


This paper builds upon the Keynesian theory of demand-led growth in order to provide an analytical framework for explaining economic growth and development in concrete terms, consistent with the fundamental idea that growth in output and employment is determined by the growth in aggregate demand. The framework employs a historical approach to identify the main factors and their role in explaining demand-led growth and the accumulation process. The theoretical model developed abandons steady-state conditions by proposing that capacity utilisation varies in the long run as well as in the short run to ensure output has the elasticity to accommodate levels of autonomous demand free of any capacity saving constraint. On the basis of our analytical framework, the paper considers the main factors that explain the growth in aggregate demand: first, by examining the variables that determine the ‘super-multiplier’ and what social, institutional and technical conditions can cause its value to change over time; second, by identifying the components of autonomous demand and the main forces explaining their growth; and third, by considering the manner in which technical progress promotes demand-led growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Smith, 2012. "Demand-led Growth Theory: A Historical Approach," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(4), pages 543-573, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:24:y:2012:i:4:p:543-573 DOI: 10.1080/09538259.2012.729931

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. R. F. Kahn, 1959. "Exercises In The Analysis Of Growth," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 143-156.
    2. Matthew Smith, 2006. "On Interest And Profit: Thomas Tooke'S Major Legacy To Economics," Contributions to Political Economy, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 1-34, August.
    3. Trezzini, Attilio, 1998. "Capacity Utilisation in the Long Run: Some Further Considerations," Contributions to Political Economy, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(0), pages 53-67.
    4. Serrano, Franklin, 1995. "Long Period Effective Demand and the Sraffian Supermultiplier," Contributions to Political Economy, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(0), pages 67-90.
    5. Antonella Palumbo & Attilio Trezzini, 2003. "Growth without normal capacity utilization," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(1), pages 109-135.
    6. Trezzini, Attilio, 1995. "Capacity Utilisation in the Long Run and the Autonomous Components of Aggregate Demand," Contributions to Political Economy, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(0), pages 33-66.
    7. Cornwall,John & Cornwall,Wendy, 2001. "Capitalist Development in the Twentieth Century," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521341493, March.
    8. Pierangelo Garegnani & Antonella Palumbo, 1997. "Accomulation of capital," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0002, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
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    Cited by:

    1. Girardi , Daniele & Pariboni, Riccardo, 2015. "Autonomous demand and economic growth: some empirical evidence," Centro Sraffa Working Papers CSWP13, Centro di Ricerche e Documentazione "Piero Sraffa".
    2. Sergio Cesaratto, 2012. "Neo-Kaleckian and Sraffian controversies on accumulation theory," Department of Economics University of Siena 650, Department of Economics, University of Siena.

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