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Marx on absolute and relative wages


  • Levrero, Enrico Sergio


The aim of this paper is to clarify some aspects of Marx's analysis of the determinants of wages and of the peculiarities of labour as a commodity, concentrating upon three related issues. The first is that of Marx's notion of the subsistence (or natural) wage rate: subsistence wage will be shown to stem, according to Marx, from socially determined conditions of reproduction of an efficient labouring class. The second issue refers to the distinction between the natural and the market wage rate that can be found in Marx, and his critique of Ricardo's analysis of the determinants of the price of labour. Finally, Marx's analysis of the effects of technical progress on both absolute and relative wages will be considered, also relating it back to the long-standing debate on the Marxian law of the falling rate of profit.

Suggested Citation

  • Levrero, Enrico Sergio, 2009. "Marx on absolute and relative wages," MPRA Paper 20976, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:20976

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eckhard Hein, 2006. "Money, interest and capital accumulationin Karl Marx's economics: a monetary interpretation and some similaritiesto post-Keynesian approaches," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(1), pages 113-140.
    2. Antonella Stirati, 1994. "THE THEORY OF WAGES IN CLASSICAL ECONOmiCS," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 417.
    3. Kurz,Heinz D. & Salvadori,Neri, 1997. "Theory of Production," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521588676, March.
    4. Howard Petith, 2005. "Marx's analysis of the falling rate of profit in the first version of Volume III of capital," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(2), pages 269-290.
    5. 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.
    6. Bowles, Samuel & Gintis, Herbert, 1977. "The Marxian Theory of Value and Heterogeneous Labour: A Critique and Reformulation," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(2), pages 173-192, June.
    7. Harris, Donald J, 1983. "Accumulation of Capital and the Rate of Profit in Marxian Theory," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(3-4), pages 311-330, September.
    8. Schefold, Bertram, 1976. "Different Forms of Technical Progress," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 86(344), pages 806-819, December.
    9. Green, Francis, 1991. "The Relationship of Wages to the Value of Labour-Power in Marx's Labour Market," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 199-213, June.
    10. Samuelson, Paul A, 1978. "The Canonical Classical Model of Political Economy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 1415-1434, December.
    11. Garegnani, Pierangelo, 1984. "Piero Sraffa," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 1-2, March.
    12. Okishio, Nobuo, 1977. "Notes on Technical Progress and Capitalist Society," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 93-100, March.
    13. Hollander,Samuel, 2008. "The Economics of Karl Marx," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521793995, May.
    14. Hollander,Samuel, 2008. "The Economics of Karl Marx," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521790789, May.
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    More about this item


    Marx; subsistence wage; wages and productivity; Marxian law of the falling rate of profit;

    JEL classification:

    • B51 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Socialist; Marxian; Sraffian
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • B14 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Socialist; Marxist

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