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The Conceptual Roots of Work Effort in Pre-classical and Classical Economic Thought

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  • Drakopoulos, Stavros A.
  • Karayiannis, Anastassios

Abstract

In modern literature, the concept of work effort is used as an additional explanation of involuntary unemployment. In particular, it is assumed that higher wages have a positive effect on work effort and this is the fundamental point of the efficiency wage models of involuntary unemployment. However, as it is often the case, the concept of the workers' effort was not new but it was an idea that can be found in the works of a number of pre-classical and classical economists. This paper discusses the conceptual roots of the idea from the late 17th until the middle of the 19th centuries. For instance, there is evidence of the connection between wages, work effort and consumption in the works of North, Hume, Steuart, Smith, Young, Crumpe, Ricardo, Senior, McCulloch, Babbage, Longfield, J.S. Mill and others. The paper also assesses the similarities and differences of their views with current approaches to work effort.

Suggested Citation

  • Drakopoulos, Stavros A. & Karayiannis, Anastassios, 2006. "The Conceptual Roots of Work Effort in Pre-classical and Classical Economic Thought," MPRA Paper 14050, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:14050
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/14050/1/MPRA_paper_14050.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173.
    2. Yellen, Janet L, 1984. "Efficiency Wage Models of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 200-205, May.
    3. A. W. Coats, 1958. "Changing Attitudes To Labour In The Mid-Eighteenth Century," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 11(1), pages 35-51, August.
    4. Drakopoulos, S. A. & Karayiannis, A. D., 2004. "The Historical Development of Hierarchical Behavior in Economic Thought," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(03), pages 363-378, September.
    5. Solow, Robert M., 1979. "Another possible source of wage stickiness," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 79-82.
    6. Davide Fiaschi & Rodolfo Signorino, 2003. "Consumption patterns, development and growth: Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Thomas Robert Malthus," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(1), pages 5-24.
    7. Brewer, Anthony, 1998. "Luxury and Economic Development: David Hume and Adam Smith," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 45(1), pages 78-98, February.
    8. Malcomson, James M, 1981. "Unemployment and the Efficiency Wage Hypothesis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(364), pages 848-866, December.
    9. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    work effort; wage rate; pre-classical thought; classical thought;

    JEL classification:

    • B12 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Classical (includes Adam Smith)
    • B11 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Preclassical (Ancient, Medieval, Mercantilist, Physiocratic)
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General

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