Unproductive Labour in Political Economy

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Contemporary mainstream economists see social wealth as the sum of individual incomes, but for three centuries many economists saw wealth as consisting of the public and private resources of a nation. This led them to explore the idea of unproductive labour, which provides a nation with an individual income, but does not contribute to an increase in social wealth or help to foster development. This book analyses the evolution of ideas surrounding unproductive labour, offering an unprecedented history that guides readers from the work of Petty through to the present economic crisis. This volume explores the work of several key scholars, including Smith, Petty, Marx, Ricardo, Mill, Say and Schumpeter. This book is suitable for scholars and researchers with an interest in the history of economic thought, labour economics and economic philosophy. Winner of the 2019 Ernest Lluch Prize from the Spanish Association of Economic History

Table of contents

Title Page
Copyright Page
Notes on the text
I Introduction: what is unproductive labour
II Unproductive labour before Smith
III Physiocracy: labour productive of surplus — Condillac
IV Adam Smith: the struggle against rent
V Supporters of Smith on unproductive labour
VI Critics of Smith on services and intellectual labour
VII The subjective approach (all labour productive)
VIII The deadlock of unproductive consumption
IX Underconsumption and crises
X Technical progress
XI Marx’s blind alley on unproductive labour
XII Investment in human capital
XIII Overproduction versus underconsumption
XIV Fall and revival of Smith’s distinction
XV Crises and underconsumption in Marx and his followers
XVI Productiveness of public expenditures
XVII Productive labour in the 1960s–70s Marxist thought
XVIII New middle classes and human capital
XIX The welfare state as investment in human capital
XX Saturation: the growth of unproductive labour
XXI The future of productive labour
Name Index
Subject Index

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