Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Conceptual Roots of Work Effort in Pre-classical and Classical Economic Thought

Drakopoulos, Stavros A. and Karayiannis, Anastassios (2006): The Conceptual Roots of Work Effort in Pre-classical and Classical Economic Thought. Published in: Archives of Economic History , Vol. 18, No. 2 (2006): pp. 27-44.

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Abstract

In modern literature, the concept of work effort is used as an additional explanation of involuntary unemployment. In particular, it is assumed that higher wages have a positive effect on work effort and this is the fundamental point of the efficiency wage models of involuntary unemployment. However, as it is often the case, the concept of the workers' effort was not new but it was an idea that can be found in the works of a number of pre-classical and classical economists. This paper discusses the conceptual roots of the idea from the late 17th until the middle of the 19th centuries. For instance, there is evidence of the connection between wages, work effort and consumption in the works of North, Hume, Steuart, Smith, Young, Crumpe, Ricardo, Senior, McCulloch, Babbage, Longfield, J.S. Mill and others. The paper also assesses the similarities and differences of their views with current approaches to work effort.

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