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On the Ricardian Invariable Measure of Value: The General Possibility of the Standard Commodity


  • Kurose, Kazuhiro

    () (Graduate School of Economics and Management, Tohoku University)

  • Yoshihara, Naoki

    () (The Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University)


The purpose of this paper is to examine the critical arguments made by Burmeister, Samuelson, and others, with respect to Sraffa (1960). In his arguments about the standard commodity, Sraffa assumed that a change in income distribution has no effect on the output level and choice of techniques, while those critics argue that interdependence among changes in income distribution, output level, and choice of techniques should be taken into consideration in the arguments on the invariable measure of value and the linearity of income distribution. Given this debate, the paper considers general economies with non-increasing returns to scale, where such interdependence is a universal feature, in which a generalisation of the standard commodity is defined. Moreover, it is shown that the generalised standard commodity can serve as an invariable measure of value even in those general economies. Finally, the paper also characterises the necessary and sufficient condition under which the linear functional relation of income distribution is obtained in those economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Kurose, Kazuhiro & Yoshihara, Naoki, 2014. "On the Ricardian Invariable Measure of Value: The General Possibility of the Standard Commodity," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2014-08, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ums:papers:2014-08

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Burmeister,Edwin, 1980. "Capital Theory and Dynamics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521297035, September.
    2. Fujimoto, T., 1979. "Nonlinear generalization of the Frobenius theorem : A symmetric approach," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 17-21, March.
    3. Fujimoto, T., 1980. "Addendum to nonlinear generalization of the frobenius theorem," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 213-214, July.
    4. Samuelson, Paul A. & Etula, Erkko M., 2006. "Testing to confirm that Leontief-Sraffa matrix equations for input/output must obey constancy of returns to scale," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 183-188, February.
    5. Burmeister, Edwin, 1977. "The Irrelevance of Sraffa's Analysis without Constant Returns to Scale," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 68-70, March.
    6. Eatwell, John, 1977. "The Irrelevance of Returns to Scale in Sraffa's Analysis," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 61-68, March.
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    More about this item


    Ricardo’s invariable measure of value; Sraffa’s standard commodity; Linear relation of income distribution;

    JEL classification:

    • B51 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Socialist; Marxian; Sraffian
    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D51 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Exchange and Production Economies

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