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Capitalism, Unemployment and the Transition to the Contemporary Pattern of Growth


  • Howard Petith


A new model of unemployment based on an idea of Marx is presented and used to interpret the development of the British economy from the beginning of capitalism to the present. It is shown that unemployment may be created purposely by capitalists in order to weaken the bargaining position of the workers. This mechanism leads to complex temporal pattern of unemployment and can explain why wages took almost a century and a half to react to the growing capital to labour ratio that characterised early British capitalism.

Suggested Citation

  • Howard Petith, 2005. "Capitalism, Unemployment and the Transition to the Contemporary Pattern of Growth," Working Papers 194, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:194

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2002. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1133-1191.
    2. Richard A. Breche & Zhiqi Chen & Ehsan U. Choudhri, 2002. "Unemployment and Growth in the Long Run: An Efficiency-Wage Model with Optimal Savings," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(3), pages 875-894, August.
    3. Galor, Oded, 2006. "The Demographic Transition," MPRA Paper 76646, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Allin Cottrell & William A. Darity, Jr., 1988. "Marx, Malthus, and Wages," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 20(2), pages 173-190, Summer.
    5. Bean, Charles & Pissarides, Christopher, 1993. "Unemployment, consumption and growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 837-854, May.
    6. Booth,Alison L., 1994. "The Economics of the Trade Union," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521468398, March.
    7. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2001. "Evolution and growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 718-729, May.
    8. Galor, Oded & Mountford, Andrew, 2002. "Why are a Third of People Indian and Chinese? Trade, Industrialization and Demographic Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers 3136, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    More about this item


    Capitalism; Marx; Great Britain; unemployment;

    JEL classification:

    • E11 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Marxian; Sraffian; Kaleckian
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada
    • P1 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems


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