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Measuring productivity increase by long-run prices: The early analyses of G.R. Porter and R. Giffen


  • Opocher, Arrigo


The 19th century economic commentators did not possess a formal measure of the rate at which productivity was increasing during the industrial take-off. Yet they did develop an intuitive method based on the comparative change in prices and wages. This paper reviews the contributions of G.R. Porter and R. Giffen and, in the light of some modern contributions, presents an assessment of their rationality and improvability under current standards. It is argued, in particular, that a proper measure of industrial productivity increase based on the change in real earnings rates is the mathematical dual of a Solovian measure of the industrial Total Factor Productivity growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Opocher, Arrigo, 2009. "Measuring productivity increase by long-run prices: The early analyses of G.R. Porter and R. Giffen," MPRA Paper 18272, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:18272

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Heinz Kurz, 2010. "Technical progress, capital accumulation and income distribution in Classical economics: Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Karl Marx," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(5), pages 1183-1222.
    2. Opocher, Arrigo, 2009. "A Dual-Solovian Measure of Productivity Increase and its Early Antecedents," MPRA Paper 15541, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Lydall, Harold, 1969. "On Measuring Technical Progress," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(12), pages 1-12, June.
    4. Dale W. Jorgenson, 1991. "Productivity and Economic Growth," NBER Chapters,in: Fifty Years of Economic Measurement: The Jubilee of the Conference on Research in Income and Wealth, pages 19-118 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Arrigo Opocher, 2010. "The future of the working classes: a comparison between J.S. Mill and A. Marshall," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(2), pages 229-253.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bisello, Martina & Opocher, Arrigo, 2013. "Real cost reduction and productivity increase in an individual industry: a price-accounting approach in theory and practice," MPRA Paper 48367, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    productivity growth; TFP: cost function; real wages; income distribution.;

    JEL classification:

    • D33 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Factor Income Distribution
    • B16 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Quantitative and Mathematical
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity

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