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Does Marginal Productivity Mean Anything in Real Economic Life ?

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  • Jael, Paul

Abstract

The equality between factor pay and marginal product is a major component of the neoclassical paradigm. The paper begins with a brief historical review of this principle. Follows a questioning about the relevance of this law as an argument in the social debates: does marginal product represent the very contribution of the agent and if so, is it a legitimate reference for the setting of remuneration? Our answer to the first part of the question is irresolute; to the second, it is negative. But most of the article is devoted to analysing the economic realism of the said law, both empirically and theoretically. We review some statistical studies present in the literature, with particular attention for the debate regarding the regressions of Cobb and Douglas. Evidence does not strengthen the neoclassical law of retribution. The paper analyses the factors that hinder either the determinateness of marginal product or the equalisation between it and factor's remuneration. Are analysed: - the restrictions inherent in the law of marginal productivity: constant returns to scale and perfect competition - an alternative explanation of interest: the Austrian theory - incentive wage theories: efficiency wage and tournament theory. The article then considers the particular case of the CEO's remuneration.

Suggested Citation

  • Jael, Paul, 2019. "Does Marginal Productivity Mean Anything in Real Economic Life ?," MPRA Paper 92239, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:92239
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/92239/1/MPRA_paper_92239.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    2. Philip Du Caju & François Rycx & Ilan Tojerow, 2011. "Inter‐Industry Wage Differentials: How Much Does Rent Sharing Matter?," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 79(4), pages 691-717, July.
    3. Frank H. Knight, 1923. "The Ethics of Competition," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(4), pages 579-624.
    4. Anabela Carneiro & Paulo Guimaraes & Pedro Portugal, 2009. "Real Wages and the Business Cycle: Accounting for Worker and Firm Heterogeneity," CEF.UP Working Papers 0903, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    5. Jesus Felipe & F. Gerard Adams, 2005. ""A Theory of Production" The Estimation of the Cobb-Douglas Function: A Retrospective View," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 427-445, Summer.
    6. Knight, Frank H., 1923. "The Ethics of Competition," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 37, pages 579-624, August.
    7. Douglas, Paul H, 1976. "The Cobb-Douglas Production Function Once Again: Its History, Its Testing, and Some New Empirical Values," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(5), pages 903-915, October.
    8. Baris Kaymak & Andriana Bellou, 2010. "Wage Growth over the Business Cycle: Contractual versus Spot Markets," 2010 Meeting Papers 1289, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    marginal productivity; income distribution; wage; interest; profit; production function;

    JEL classification:

    • B21 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Microeconomics
    • D33 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Factor Income Distribution

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