IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Dynamics of Capitalism


  • Scherer, F. M.

    (Harvard University)


This paper, written for a larger compendium edited by Dennis Mueller, examines key dynamic features of capitalistic economies and how prominent economists such as Schumpeter, Marx, Keynes, and von Mises perceived them. The emphasis is on the growth in real per capita income achieved by capitalistic economies during the past two centuries. A Gedankenexperiment exploring what might have happened if the growth experience began earlier, in the year 800, shows how astonishing the record has been. Technological innovation, in large part endogenous to the capitalist system, is a key explanation for the growth achieved. A briefer discursion deals with breaks in growth trajectories, notably, in the form of business downturns and business fluctuations more generally. They are shown to be small relative to the longer-term growth pattern. An equally important issue is how the gains from growth have been distributed. Contrary to Marx's "immiserization" prediction, the gains have for the most part been widely shared among capitalists and workers alike. However, stagnation of real income growth for American production workers since the 1970s introduces new and troubling questions, several of whose provisional explanations are investigated.

Suggested Citation

  • Scherer, F. M., 2010. "The Dynamics of Capitalism," Working Paper Series rwp10-001, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp10-001

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert Z. Lawrence, 2008. "Blue-Collar Blues: Is Trade to Blame for Rising US Income Inequality?," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa85.
    2. Bronwyn H. Hall & Nathan Rosenberg (ed.), 2010. "Handbook of the Economics of Innovation," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp10-001. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.