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Marx on absolute and relative wages

Levrero, Enrico Sergio (2009): Marx on absolute and relative wages.


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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.

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