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John Stuart Mill's Theories of Wealth and Income Distribution


  • Hans Jensen


Although he was much influenced by David Ricardo when he wrote the classical part of his Principles , John Stuart Mill was not a Ricardian when he penned his theories of wealth and distribution. They are based on a triple foundation. First, a belief that economics is a moral discipline. Second a theory of custom-driven human behavior. Third, an empirically formed conviction that the institutions of state, education and business cooperate to structure the distribution of income. On the basis of these presuppositions, Mill formulated 1) an institutional theory of the formation of human and non-human wealth and 2) an even more institutional theory of distribution demonstrating how the aforementioned institutions malignantly skew the distribution of income to the advantage of the propertied classes and to the extreme disadvantage of the working class. As a social economist, Mill recommended institutional reforms designed to eradicate the poverty of the working class.

Suggested Citation

  • Hans Jensen, 2001. "John Stuart Mill's Theories of Wealth and Income Distribution," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 59(4), pages 491-507.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:59:y:2001:i:4:p:491-507
    DOI: 10.1080/00346760110081599

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Malthus, Thomas Robert, 1798. "An Essay on the Principle of Population," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number malthus1798.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michel Zouboulakis, 2010. "Trustworthiness as a Moral Determinant of Economic Activity: Lessons from the Classics," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, vol. 39(3), pages 209-221, October.


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